Fighting the IPS Beetle In Denver


The city of Denver is cracking down on the IPS beetle! Learn how you can do your part to keep your trees safe and keep this pest away.

Denver is nationally recognized for its breathtaking scenery. Wooded hills, fall foliage, and more are admired by tourists and locals alike. In a city where you can enjoy the views by biking 85 miles worth of bike paths or hiking favorite parks such as Red Rocks and Rocky Mountain National Park, outdoor adventure is king.

The variety of beautiful trees that Denver has to offer should not be taken for granted. Key tree species are currently under attack and it will take every Denver resident doing their part to save them. Certain environmental conditions in Denver such as prolonged drought, and creation of freshly cut timber, have made the trees vulnerable to a formidable pest- the IPS beetle.

An alarming update from the Colorado State State Forest Service Insect Series publication warns that there has been a significant IPS beetle population increase. Some counties are witnessing the beetles kill hundreds of healthy trees in a single year!

The city of Denver is ready to act swiftly to save the trees, but your help is needed. Want to enjoy the beautiful Denver outdoors for many more years to come? Then do your part. Act in solidarity with your community and protect your trees from the IPS beetle.

Meet the IPS Beetle

Also called an engraver beetle, these dark-colored beetles feed on the phloem of wood. They mark and carve the wood as they feed, hence the name engraver beetle. These insects are small, only about 1/8 to 3/8 in long. They can be reddish-brownish or black in color.

The growing number of IPS beetles in Denver is concerning. Presently, there are more than eleven species native to the area. The IPS beetle is spreading more rapidly than other pests because it can withstand the cold winter temperatures and has 2-4 generations per year. The beetles are active from early March all the way through November.

Common Tree Diseases in Denver Targeted by the IPS Beetle

Are my trees a target? IPS beetles attack with discretion. They are known to go after native species most often: Blue Spruce, Englemann Spruce, Ponderosa Pine, Pinyon Pine, Concolor/Noble Fir, and Subalpine Fir.

Have recently purchased your home, or are unsure of what species of trees you have on your property? Your first step to protecting your trees is to identify them. One of our Feilding Tree arbor experts can conduct a quick consultation and easily help you learn more about what species are growing on your land.

How to Tell If Your Trees are Infected

Are my trees already affected? There are some telltale signs and symptoms you can look for. Peel some bark back to look for these signs of the IPS beetle:

  • Early fading on the top or whole tree in the spring, during the summer, late summer, or early fall. Fading will be rapid.
  • No pitch-tubes after IPS attack the tree fails to produce them. If pitch-tubes are produced they are usually very small and covered with cinnamon-colored boring dust.
  • Reddish boring dust at the base of the tree or on the bark crevices can usually be spotted. Visible during the warmer months.
  • Look for a beetle path under the bark. Paths made by IPS beetles are shaped in a “Y” or “H” pattern and are clear of sawdust.
  • Woodpecker feeding marks on the main trunk of the tree and large branches

Sometimes the symptoms of IPS tree infection are not always clear, and can easily be confused with signs of other bugs and wildlife. Don’t leave things with a question mark! To care for your trees, you need accurate information. Feilding Tree experts can come out to your house and check for your trees for symptoms of the IPS beetle today!

Treatment Options With Fielding Tree Care

The best case scenario is that the IPS beetle has not gotten to your trees yet. The IPS beetle preys on trees that are weak and cannot defend themselves against attack. Through a series of proactive treatments, you can strengthen your trees defensive system. They will be able to fight off the IPS beetle and other pests when they are properly cared for.

1) Preventative Pruning:

Preventative pruning helps trees grow and form a sustainable structure. Structural pruning in both young and mature trees helps to strengthen the tree’s structure. Removing dead and diseased limbs increases the access to sunlight and stimulating healthy tree growth. Incorrect or haphazard pruning can damage your tree, so proceed with caution! Effective preventative pruning includes:

  • Removal of deadwood
  • Raising of skirt
  • Repairing storm damage

2) Fertilization:

Think of fertilizer as an immunization or booster shot for trees. It juices them with the nutrients they need that may not always be readily available in their habitat. There are many different types of fertilizer and fertilization methods. Feilding Tree arborists can help you craft a fertilization plan that is appropriate for your trees. Effective fertilization includes:

  • Application 2 times per year
  • Application during Spring and Fall months
  • Ongoing and consistent application for the remainder of the tree’s life

3) Consistent Watering:

Prolonged drought is one of the leading causes of IPS beetle damage right now. One of the simplest things you can do to bolster the health of your trees is to give them adequate water! Consider these tips:

  • Spruce and Pines need a massive amount of water, and they require deep-root feeding on a regular bi-weekly basis.
  • Trees should be slow-watered with a hose-attached pattern sprayer for 1-2 hours per location, per tree, every 2 weeks in the winter. This is especially critical when there isn’t regular snowfall.
  • Watering the lawn is not enough! Turf is far more efficient at water-uptake than tree roots. Trees cannot compete with your grass for water.

4) Cambistat Application:

Cambistat controls tree growth. Specifically, it regulates the canopy growth. Used by arborists as a final step in the pruning process, Cambistat can effectively extend time between pruning, increase fine root production, and improve safety. Cambistat application will improve drought and heat resistance, and help trees build a higher tolerance to certain diseases. Other considerations  include:

  • Improving growth and stress regulation of canopy
  • Allocation of resources to defense systems
  • Up to 3 years of coverage possible
  • Skirt of canopy of tree must be raised to at least 4 feet for injection application

5) Trunk Injection Pesticide:

The Fielding Tree experts use ArborMectin,  a tree injected insecticide for two-year control of the IPS beetle. Injection is applied only once a year, in March or April. Trunk injection pesticide is very effective, but only in the tree has not been infested. It is for prevention purposes only. Other considerations:

  • Two years of coverage yields considerably high success rate
  • Skirt of canopy of tree must be raised to at least 4 feet for injection application

Tips for Success

Here are a few more suggestions from the Colorado State Forest Service, check out their poster all about the IPS beetle!

  • Improving tree vigor of individual trees through preventative strategies is the best way to keep the IPS beetles away.
  • Be cautious not injure trees when thinning. Injured trees attract IPS beetles!
  • Stack recently cut green or unseasoned firewood far away from living trees. This is the IPS beetles dream breeding spot. They could attack and kill nearby trees.
  • Similarly, haul away slash piles as quickly as possible. Do not place slash piles near living trees. IPS beetles are also attracted to slash piles.

Be On the Right Side of the Law

The IPS beetle infestation cannot be allowed to persist. Nonaction is no longer an option. The city of Denver is cracking down! City authorities are requiring all property owners to do their part to keep the city’s trees safe.

If you receive a citation, they are willing to extend only for 1 month! This is because the beetle is active as early as March or April. With 4 breeding seasons in 1 year, a real epidemic is on the horizon! Stressed and mature spruce are especially vulnerable. Denver officials are not going to sit idly by. They are ahead of the curve and ready to combat the growing IPS beetle population. Be on the right side of the law and join the fight. Save your trees and prevent the IPS beetle from wreaking havoc in Denver. You really can make a difference!

Fighting pest infestation isn’t easy. It takes time and money, but the return on investment is great. Taking a proactive approach to tree care is your best course of action for protecting your beautiful trees and those all around your city. Being on the lookout and spotting symptoms early are key to prevention. Our team of certified arborists is the best resource for determining the most appropriate solutions.

The first step is to contact Fielding Tree Care and set up an estimate today! With the population of IPS beetle constantly on the rise, the urgency is too great. Don’t wait until they are spotted in your neighborhood. Protect your trees and your community is taking action now. Keep Denver trees beautiful and strong!