Name: Ips spp.

Alias: Ips beetle, engraver beetle, or simple “bark beetle.” Ips beetles are small, usually about a quarter of an inch long. They can vary in color from dark brown to black. Their back end tends to have a rough surface that look like spikes or bumps on sandpaper. Their heads tend to be very blunt. The Ips beetle is an insect known for spending a majority of their life under the bark of coniferous trees. Adults tunnel into the tree, causing sawdust to protrude from the entrance hole. While inside the adults lay their eggs and die. The larvae spend their life under the bark, pupate, and only emerge as adults. As multiple adults emerge at once, it will make the tree look like it has been “peppered” with birdshot.

Crimes: Crawling around under the bark is very stressful for trees. If infestations are severe then entire branches or even trees can die. One of the main predators for Ips beetles is woodpeckers, which rip apart trees to get access to their prey. This puts more stress on the tree while controlling small portions of the insect population.

Redeeming qualities: None known.

Sentence: One of the best practices to prevent Ips beetles is proper tree care. Vigorous tree growth makes it hard for Ips beetles to infest. Proper water and sunlight are critical. Infected trees should have the damaged portions removed and burned, chipped or hauled away. Never allow cut branches to remain on site for long periods of time. Systemic insecticides can be used when the adults emerge in late spring. Always remember to read and follow the label instructions.

For more information on dangerous and beneficial bugs, call UI Extension educator Joseph Sagers at 208-745-6685 or email

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