Bark beetles plague the forests of Canada so furiously you'd think rivers of blood and the death of the firstborn would follow hot on their heels. So far, no one has stopped the beetle rampage that has destroyed 33 million acres of trees in British Columbia. However, scientists at Northern Arizona University (NAU) may have devised a way to turn back the beetle tide using sound recordings.
Like Nevada residents tried last year, the NAU scientists started by blasting rock music and backwards recordings of Rush Limbaugh (presumably because playing the Rush Limbaugh recordings forward is a punishment too terrible even for the beetles). Unfortunately, the beetles quickly became immune to the sounds of heavy metal and heavy bloviating.
The researchers then struck back with an even more annoying sound: recordings of the beetles themselves. The scientists recorded the bark beetle's own aggression sound, and played it back at them. Faced with a wall of screaming beetle noises, the beetle host quickly fled. Not only did the recordings scatter the swarm, but the playback only cost $100 per tree, far less than any other method.
The NAU team hopes to have a commercial version of their beetle repellent operation by 2011, just in time for the next seasonal insect attack.
Wow, I live surrounded by these creatures and I've never known...
The tree’s already have a natural defense, sap. Normally the bark beetle has limited success because the sap flows into the holes where the adults and larva nest, thus killing both the adults and their larva. But because of the huge drought facing parts of the west right now there has been no natural defense to kill them off, sap doesn’t flow if it’s not moist. This drought has been going for over ten years now in parts of the west, which is why the beetles have been so successful in destroying millions of acres of trees. As rainfall and snowfall return to their normal levels is will help prevent further damage. Unfortunately global warming isn’t going to help this cycle. I grew up in Flagstaff Arizona, next door to the NAU campus. I also worked for forest fire crews in the Coconino and Kaibab National Forests. There have been times where the lumber at Home Depot contained more moisture than the trees in those forests. The fire hazard alone is incredibly dangerous. It’s great to see they’ve found something that might help.
Some how this story reminds me of an 80's infomercial for some pest control device that would turn your house wiring into a repellent by frequency vibration.
We had a bark beetle problem in Alaska about a decade ago or more. Eventually after killing thousands of acres of trees they went away. I think they're natural cycle?