The bark beetle has arrived in Scotland

A nightmare for Swedish forest owners

The much-feared bark beetle, Ips typographus has been around in Europe for a long time. After the dry summers since 2018, the bark beetle took the chance to “invade” many European countries. Germany and the Czech Republic were among the most affected, but also Sweden and France suffered from the pest. Now, for the first time, one single bark beetle has been spotted in Scotland, a country that hasn’t had any bark beetle problems. 

bark beetle Ips typographus
Bark beetle (Ips typographus) Photo: Swedish Forest Agency (Skogsstyrelsen)

The bark beetle has arrived in Scotland

Of course, one single bark beetle is no invasion. It was found in a trap that is part of a new surveillance program by Scottish Forestry to check pests and diseases in Scotland’s forests. The program uses aerial surveillance, drones, traps, ground surveillance, and “citizen science” to report sightings on the Net at Tree Alert. The Bark beetle was found among 6,500 other samples. 

“Although this is the first time we have found Ips typographus in Scotland we currently believe it is a one-off and has simply hitchhiked here,” says James Nott, Head of Tree Health at Scottish Forestry and continues. “Whenever we find quarantine pests such as this, even in very small numbers, we always follow it up quickly with further surveys to ensure there are no other resident populations”. 

Already in the UK

Since 2018, the bark beetle has been present in Kent, England which we wrote about in May last year. In this case, it’s believed that the bark beetles came across the English Channel from the European mainland. That population seems to have become established in that area even though a lot has been done to limit the damages. 

Quick actions are important

To follow up and take quick actions are important. In the spring of 2022, the Swedish Forest Agency noted that 80 percent of the bark beetle-affected trees from 2021 were still in the forest. One of the reasons was that no tangible actions had been taken against the pest. The Forest Agency settled for information campaigns that turned out to have a limited effect on the problem. 

In the spring of 2022, the Swedish forest owners prepared for a nightmare to come as there were vast windthrow damages in some parts of the country. However, the summer of 2022 was wet and cold which slowed the proliferation of the bark beetle. Nevertheless, Sweden has a big problem fighting the bark beetle. Each year millions of cubic meters of timber are damaged by the bark beetle. It’s a war that can’t be won. 

So, it can’t be said often enough; Quick reactions and actions are important! 

Here is a press release from Scottish Forestry on the subject.

Sources: Forest Research,      Scottish Forestry

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