bark beetle destruction

Stressed by drought, the lighter colored trees have been killed by bark beetle infestation.

A creature no larger than a grain of rice is imperiling the towering ponderosa pines of the Tonto National Forest. Learn about bark beetles in a free University of Arizona Cooperative Extension Gila County webinar at 11 a.m., Thursday, Oct. 1.

Statistics are sobering

The Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management aerial surveyed the state in 2018, flying over 15 million acres of forest and assessing 276,000 acres of tree damage from bark beetles. That marked a 513% increase in bark beetle activity.

Drought and bark beetles are to blame. Bark beetles can sense chemicals emitted by stressed, unhealthy trees. Trees that are adequately hydrated produce enough pitch to deter bark beetles and other parasites that try to bore their way in. Worsening drought leads to forest-wide infestation.

Featured presenter

Aly McAlexander is presenting the program. She studied at Southern Oregon University, worked as a seasonal wildland firefighter and on timber crews in Montana and Colorado.

She received a master’s degree in botany from Colorado State University, studying forest pathology in the Rocky Mountains. This February she brought her talents to Arizona to serve as Forest Health Specialist with the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management.

One goal of Thursday’s presentation is for viewers to learn how to accurately identify bark beetle infestations and determine which beetle is the culprit. McAlexander will also review management options and discuss the new Healthy Forests Cost Share Program the Department of Forestry and Fire Management is offering to private landowners.

The webinar address is or visit You can also view previous programs at the site, including a recent one on winter gardening and Payson’s new fire adapted community code.

These informative online chats are arranged and moderated by extension agent Chris Jones. Cooperative Extension’s website above has an array of links to programs, talks and resources for Rim Country gardeners.

Links are also conveniently posted each week on Facebook, to join Jones and a local network of gardeners and green-thumbed followers at

To be added to Jones’ invite list for October-November gardening and horticulture workshops, call 928-402-8586 or email

Contact the reporter at

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