The State Division of Forestry is very concerned about a resurgence of spruce bark beetles, according to Forest Heath Program Manager Jason Moan.

Moan said an infestation that started in 2015 is picking up steam every year. The bugs are doing extensive damage on the Kenai Peninsula and the Mat-Su Vally, but also in the Anchorage area.

Moan said it's important for homeowners to know the signs of spruce beetle infestation so they can try and protect healthy trees from becoming infected. Spruce with dying needles and tiny holes in the bark that show sap and bits of sawdust are signs the beetles have taken hold. Once there, according to Moan, it's too late to save the tree.

Moan said homeowners can spray pesticides on healthy trees that can be effective against infestation but that has to be done in the early spring. For now, he said, the best defense is to make an extra effort to keep healthy spruce healthy by watering regularly.

If a tree is clearly dead, Moan said it might be best to remove it. The wood can still be used for firewood but homeowners should try to dry it out as much as possible and never store it near a healthy spruce.

"So, if you are having a tree removed and you can debark it or have it chipped or cut it up for firewood, that that is going to help that material dry out and make it less suitable for any beetles that are in it or be attracted to it," said Moen.

For more information on spruce bark beetles and how to deal with them the Forest Service, Division of Forestry and the University Cooperative Extension Service have a new website. You can find it here

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