spruce bark beetle
Live on 1/2 acre lot that is full of spruce. One tree, probably 40+ feet tall, is rapidly losing its needles on one side. Trunk is covered with small pin-head size bore holes. Spruce bark beetles?? Do I just have that tree cut down? Who can help me figure out if it is in fact spruce bark beetles and advise me on next steps. I don't really want to spray because I don't want to poison the multitude of birds that inhabit my trees. I've attached an image of the trunk and you can see two of the bore holes. Help??
Thanks for your question. You probably have a bark beetle and it likely is the spruce beetle. The small shotgun sized holes in the bark are exit holes so it is most likely the beetles have left the tree to seek new hosts, see this link for more information or google spruce beetle in AK. http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/r10/forest-grasslandhealth/?cid=fsbdev2_038390
Cutting the tree down after beetles leave the tree (which has occurred based on the fact there are exit holes in the bark) is not necessary unless it is a hazard around the home. Factors that influence susceptibility of your spruce trees to spruce beetle are varied and include moisture stress caused by overstocking, root disease, or root damage during construction. Other factors include blowdown (beetles build up in downed trees and attack standing trees the following year). The beetles in your tree emerging now attacked the tree last year, takes one to two years for brood development.
You can find out for sure by contacting your local county extension office or the University of Alaska or a local office of Alaska Department of Forestry. You will need to check locally for contact information.