Spruce beetle hits more Colorado forests; pine beetle slows

Forest managers reported a drop in the mountain pine beetle epidemic in Colorado, reaching its lowest level in 17 years. But the spruce beetle outbreak is growing, according to the US Forest Service and the Colorado State Forest Service.

Mountain pine beetles were active on 15,000 acres in 2014, compared to 98,000 acres during 2013. The decline stems from the beetle running out of the large trees it needs to feast on.

Pine beetles have attacked more than 5,300 square miles of Colorado trees since 1996.

But it’s a different story for the spruce beetle. That outbreak has expanded from 398,000 acres in 2013 to 485,000 last year.

Researchers say wind storms that uproot trees along with drought stress, warmer temperatures and extensive amounts of older, dense spruce, have added to the problem.