Tiny, eight-toothed beetles have eaten most of the spruce trees in Germany's Harz mountains

Originally published at: Tiny, eight-toothed beetles have eaten most of the spruce trees in Germany's Harz mountains | Boing Boing


I’ve been told by Forest Rangers in California that in addition to the lack of rainfall stressing the trees, the other factor is that cold winters typically used to kill off a large percentage of the beetles every year, giving the trees a fighting chance. But winters aren’t so cold these days.


Just watch the documentary Birdemic and you’ll learn all about the scourge of spruce bark beetles.


We usually see wood boring beetles around the bottom layers of our firewood stack but this year one stack has started to collapse in places because the beetles have consumed a few lower pieces. I can only assume that means more beetles than usual because its never happened before. Cold winters did keep the numbers down. Now it’s SUPER humid all the time and wood is rotting faster attracting more beetles.


These little buggers are becoming a very serious problem in Europe, as they devastate forests. They aren’t as big of a problem here in Finland, yet, but they do show up here occasionally too.

Another good reason to plant mixed forests, besides natural diversity and disease resistance. Unfortunately, there have been problems with moose, who enjoy eating pine saplings, along with all sorts of deciduous tree saplings, so in many regions the landowners have planted spruce over other trees, even in terrain that’s not optimal for spruce (too sandy, dry, or rocky) because the damage from moose grazing has been so much worse.

(The reason we’re having an overflow of moose in some places is because we don’t have as many wolves or bears we ought to have, and secondarily because there aren’t as many hunters these days, going after moose, as there used to be since they are aging out of the hobby.)


This is a major issue in Germany. Most of the country, including most of the Harz, isn’t really supposed to have any spruces to speak of. Naturally they occur only high up in the mountains. But we have very little truly natural forest left and in the 19th century all the timber farmers started to plant spruces everywhere.


Between Chestnut blight, Dutch Elm disease and now Emerald Ash Borers, I think it is safe to say our forests here bear precious little resemblance to what they once were as well. No answers…


At least there are numerous programs working towards developing blight-resistant American chestnut.


Yeah, I have some hybrids in my orchard. But we will never see the widespread forests we once had.


Probably not in our lifetimes, yeah. But in the long run, who knows? If the reintroduction of blight-resistant chestnuts goes well, and climate change mitigation starts getting somewhere, and if restoring the woodlands of eastern US progresses… It’s a possibility that your descendants / heirs will see widespread chestnut woods a century or two from now!

(Also - I just realized I’ve been reading your user name as “docsoc” all this time. :sweat_smile: )

“Oscar” was my college nickname, for housekeeping prowess reasons. But “Doc Socialist” would be acceptable too!


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