August 03, 2009
The Fatal Blue Stain
I had to cut down a roughly 20-year-old ponderosa pine by the driveway near the house last week.
It started looking a little sad this spring, and as the weather warmed, its needles turned brown. The beetles had killed it--not the first tree we have lost. But this was the one that we had decorated as a Christmas tree one time when it was smaller -- stringing garlands of popcorn and cranberries that even the Steller's jays would not eat.
The photo shows the characteristic blue stain of the wood and—at the bottom—a cutaway of one of the tunnels the beetles make.
Meanwhile, ips beetles are starting to hit the piñon pines at lower altitudes, just as they have been doing in northern New Mexico. Driving from Penrose to Colorado Springs last week, I noticed that a lot of piñons were brown.
This article predicts possible ecological outcomes of current infestations, which have been heaviest in northern Colorado, as the map here shows.
A photo taken from our front porch in the 1970s that I found in the crawl space showed that the pine forest around the house was mostly oak brush back then, with a few little pines. Maybe oak brush is the constant.