The Weekend Wonk: Beetle Mania in British Columbia
April 28, 2013
Peter Jackson, a meteorologist in Prince George B.C., couldn’t believe what he was seeing on his radar screen. It was like a rainstorm, but thicker, and it was
crossing east over the Rocky Mountains. It looked a little like insect swarms, except
insects had never been seen at such high altitudes before. Farmers on the eastern slope
of the Rockies described huge clouds of insects. They could hear them pinging off their
steel roofs. The swarms were so dense they gummed up the windshield wipers on the farmers’ vehicles.
This was this first attack of the Mountain Pine Beetle east of the Rocky Mountains… the
year when the unthinkable actually happened: carried along by the prevailing winds,
trillions of Mountain Pine Beetles crossed the Rocky Mountains from BC into Alberta. Now, the great Northern Boreal Forest, one of the world’s richest ecosystems and one of its greatest carbon sinks, was face to face with a grave threat – a plague of insects, each the size of a grain of rice.