What is Beetle Kill Wood?

The Mountain Pine Beetle or MPB is an insect that has been devastating the forests of Colorado for many years. They attack primarily lodgepole pines, but have also been known to invade scotch, limber and ponderosa pines as well.

The pine beetle usually attacks larger, older trees that are under some stress due to overcrowding,

Beetle Kill

This area of forest demonstrates the devastation of the mountain pine beetle.

injury or unfavorable conditions. However, during an infestation MPB will attack even healthy trees. Areas with a lack of biodiversity are especially susceptible to beetle kill.

Trees typically show signs of damage 9 months after an infestation. The crown begins to turn an orange brown color and eventually the tree dies leaving behind a gray skeleton.

Concerns About Beetle Kill

There are several concerns regarding forests that have been damaged by beetle kill. The first concern is that the dry, dead standing wood is especially susceptible to fire. Large swaths of forest could burn quickly and uncontrollably, creating considerable danger.  Another concern is that downed, decaying beetle kill trees will add carbon to the atmosphere much more quickly than healthy trees are removing it.

Using Beetle Kill Wood

Blue Stain Pine (Beetle Kill)

This panel displays the unique blue coloring found in beetle kill wood

There are some options for the use of beetle kill trees. Summit county is working on a program to chip the trees and add it to other materials so that is can be used for landscaping purposes. Composting is also a viable option for the trees.

Another option is to use them for structural and artistic purposes. A fungus that is carried by the beetles leave a blue/gray marbling throughout the wood. Using beetle kill wood, craftsmen can find beauty in making something that was devastating into something useful.

Beetle kill wood can be used for flooring, siding, cabinetry and other furniture construction. At T. Scholl Fine Woodworks we have used beetle kill wood for cabinetry panels and furniture. This wood creates beautiful pieces that tell the story of our Colorado forests. They turn something that could otherwise be wasted into something useful. Contact us if you are interested in using this unique wood in your home.


Colorado State Extension 

Image: “Beetle Kill” by Ben Mason

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