CITY OF OURAY: Citizens encouraged to protect trees from fir beetles

By Sheridan Block

The warm, dry months of summer are only a few weeks away and with that, the threat of hungry bark beetles looms over Ouray’s dwindling number of fir trees. As bark beetles prepare their search for new host trees in the city’s forests, citizens are encouraged to take action against these destructive insects.

In an effort to save the remaining white firs and to protect Douglas-fir trees from beetle infestation, the city and local activists are making an effort to preserve existing trees on public and private property.
City staff will be placing methylcyclohexenone (MCH) bubble caps on Douglas-fir trees on city property to protect them from Douglas-fir beetles. From May 8 to 10, the city will also be selling the MCH bubble caps to residents to protect trees on their own properties.
Though MCH is effective only for the Douglas-fir, which is not as endangered as the local white fir, city council and a number of locals in support of tree health believe it is important to protect all trees in Ouray. By applying one or two bubble caps to healthy Douglas-fir trees, the pheromone MCH tricks beetles into thinking that the tree is already infected, causing the insect to move on. Caps must be applied to trees early in the spring before the beetles begin their migration. Experts recommend applying MCH before the middle of May.

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