Scientists around the world work tirelessly to develop new products and strategies to win the war against tree pests. Almost daily I receive press releases announcing the introduction of a new control product, but I recently read about a group of scientists taking a unique approach to battling bark beetle infestation.
Researchers at Northern Arizona University’s (NAU) School of Forestry have discovered an unusual, and seemingly effective, method of combating bark beetle infestation. Researchers collected infested tree trunks and began exposing the beetles to different sounds, and recording the sounds that came from the beetles, in a study dubbed “Beetle Mania.” The researchers’ playlist included Queen, Guns N’ Roses and Rush Limbaugh—none of which had any effect on the beetles’ habits. What did change the beetles’ behavior, however, was the sound of their own calls being replayed. By manipulating the beetles’ calls and playing them at different volumes, researchers were able to produce some startling results. Depending on the call, the females refused to mate or the males would stop mating and rip the females to shreds. In the trials, researchers were able to disrupt mating, tunneling and reproduction. It’s amusing to imagine the myriad ways this technology could be implemented—giant speakers mounted in the middle of the forest, arborists trolling the woods with boom boxes balanced on their shoulders—but, considering that bark beetles are responsible for killing 74 million trees in Arizona and New Mexico, these results definitely deserve further study. The NAU researchers are currently seeking more funding to continue their project.
To learn more about innovative and effective pest control strategies, don’t miss the Tree Health column in our April issue. In this issue you’ll find our enormous Product Focus on chippers, grinders, brush cutters and more on page 11. We’ve got all of the newest, toughest machines from the industry’s heavy-hitters. See something you like? Check out our article on securing financing (page 7) to learn more about finding the money to upgrade your equipment arsenal.