Canadian Forest Service Publications

Radar observation and aerial capture of mountain pine beetle, Dendroctonus ponderosae Hopk. (Coleoptera: Scolytidae) above the forest canopy. 2008. Jackson, P.; Straussfogel, D; Lindgren, B.S.; Mitchell, S.; Murphy, B. Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Forest Service, Pacific Forestry Centre, Victoria B.C. Mountain Pine Beetle Working Paper 2007-02. 32 p.

Year: 2008

Issued by: Pacific Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 28839

Language: English

Series: Mountain Pine Beetle Working Paper (PFC - Victoria)

Availability: PDF (download)

Mark record


An outbreak of the mountain pine beetle, Dendroctonus ponderosae Hopk., in central British Columbia, Canada, has reached an unprecedented size and intensity, and has been spreading to the northeast. The ability of this insect to spread over large distances is known, but has not been studied directly. The 2005 emergence and subsequent flight of mountain pine beetle in central British Columbia was studied using direct observation of emergence, radar imagery, and aerial capture. Doppler weather radar was used to remotely observe the daily flight of beetles above the forest canopy. To verify that the daytime, clear-air radar returns seen during this period were indeed generated by airborne mountain pine beetles, aerial sampling in the area covered by the radar was performed using a drogue capture net towed by a single-engine light aircraft. Results from the aerial sampling verify that airborne mountain pine beetles are being detected by the Doppler radar, and that during the emergence period significant numbers of mountain pine beetles can be found at altitudes up to more than 800 m above the forest canopy. A conservative estimate of transport distance indicates that mountain pine beetles in flight above the forest canopy may move 40 to 100 km in a single day. Estimates of the instantaneous density of mountain pine beetles in flight above the canopy on flight days in 2005 indicate an average (maximum) density of 4950 (18 600) beetles per hectare.