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3PM Report: European Spruce Bark Beetle

By Nicole Cairns, Inspector
Pesticide and Plant Pest Management Division
Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development

The European spruce bark beetle (Ips typographus L.) has not been documented in the United States, but it is a pest of significant importance in Europe and Asia, causing economic loss and ecosystem change.  Damage from the European spruce bark beetle has resulted in loss of markets due to decreased values of lumber, tree mortality in large forested areas, loss of biodiversity, and reduction of property values.  

This insect is not known to occur in Michigan; however, it was recently intercepted in Detroit by U.S. Customs and Border Protection on a pallet of automotive parts.  The live insect larva was collected from the pallet and identified as European spruce bark beetle.  The shipment was immediately rejected, but instances like this highlight the potential dangers of possible infestation.

If introduced into Michigan forests, European spruce bark beetle could result in significant changes in the forest ecosystem.  It could change the tree species composition to non-host trees and increase fuel for high intensity wildfires.  The main host is spruce, but it can also attack pine, larch, fir, and Douglas-fir.  The European spruce bark beetle usually attacks weakened or recently felled trees, but they are able to mass attack and kill healthy trees.

Adult beetles range from 4.2 to 5.5 mm in length. They are reddish or dark brown, cylindrical, and the front of the head has long yellowish hairs. The larvae are white, legless, ‘C’-shaped grubs that can be up to 5 mm long.  Pupae are white, mummy-like, with some adult features.  The eggs are pearly white in color.  One to two generations are completed per year.

Signs of infestation by the European spruce bark beetle include: foliage on trees fading from green to yellow to reddish brown, pitch tubes in bark crevices, reddish brown boring dust on the bark surface, round exit holes, and, possibly, blue stain fungus in the woody tissue.

If you suspect that you have found the European spruce bark beetle contact your county Michigan State University Extension office or the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development at 800.292.3939.

Selected References:
National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII) & IUCN/SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG).   (April 27, 2009). Global invasive species database: Ips typographus. Retrieved February 7, 2014, from http://www.issg.org/database/species/ecology.asp?si=1441&lang=EN.  

Michigan State University’s invasive species factsheets.  (February 2010). European spruce bark beetle. Retrieved February 14, 2014, from http://www.ipm.msu.edu/uploads/files/Forecasting_invasion_risks/european....

Andris Eglitis, USDA Forest Service.  (August 9, 2006).  Pest Reports EXFOR Database Ips typographus.  Retrieved February 27, 2014, from http://spfnic.fs.fed.us/exfor/data/pestreports.cfm?pestidval=58&langdisp...