Answer to the Monday Night Mystery

As much as I wish those red forest splotches were caused by Mothra– how cool would that be?- the correct answer was forest die-off by means of Dendroctonus ponderosae, the mountain pine beetle.

Pine killed by Dendroctonus (photo by DJHuber via Flickr)

In the grand scheme of insect plagues, Dendroctonus ponderosae should rank as one of the most damaging. It is a native beetle historically prone to outbreaks, but climate change and logging practices appear to have pushed infestations to unprecedented levels. Beetles bore into phloem, exposing the tree to a deadly fungus, and shortly thereafter the trees starve. Millions of forested acres in western North America succumb every year.

Points are awarded as follows: 10 to Biobob for getting both the beetle and the dieback. 2 consolation points to Alissa, for missing by only a few seconds, 2 to Rob Higgins for a thoughtful monograph on the topic, and a point each for ihateaphids and Michael Suttkus for the tongue-in-cheek responses of Rosy Apple Aphids and Mothra. We do award Humor points here at Myrmecos blog.

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