Name: Tomicus piniperda (Linnaeus)
Alias: Pine shoot beetles were first discovered in a Christmas tree plantation in Ohio back in 1992. Since then it has launched a full attack on the invasion of North America. It is quite small, about 3.5 to 5 mm in length. It overwinters as an adult, and the larvae and pupae spend their entire lives under the bark. The adults emerge from trees as temperatures rise in the spring. Its small rounded body appears very similar to other pine borer species, and may need a entomologist to identify properly.
Crimes: This small innocent looking beetle can decimate pine forests. It attacks the trunks and growing points of trees. It prefers trees that are stressed or weak, but it will also attack healthy trees. It’s feeding causes the trees to be deformed and eventually killing the trees. It will feed on most pine species.
Redeeming qualities: none known.
Sentence: In Idaho this is considered an invasive species. The state is actively trying to keep it out at all costs, so we do not have the same problems that have happened back East. The biggest step you can do this holiday season to keep shoot beetles at bay is to obtain your Christmas Trees from somewhat local sources. Don’t buy or cut something from the Midwest and assume that you do not have any stowaways. When you bring your Christmas Trees inside, the bugs may literally come crawling out of the woodworks. If you see something suspicious, take pictures and contact your local extension agent for Identification.