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DNRC Headquarters
1539 Eleventh Ave. Helena, MT 59601
Phone: (406) 444-2074 | Fax: (406) 444-2684
Questions? Email us

Bark Beetle Pheromones


FPM_BB_Pheromones.jpg

Many bark beetles mass-attack in order to overcome a tree’s natural defense mechanisms.  They communicate via chemical messages, called pheromones, and can emit an aggregation pheromone that solicits other beetles to attack the same tree.  As the tree becomes too full to sustain additional offspring, they switch to emitting an anti-aggregation pheromone, essentially sending a “no vacancy” message to other beetles.  Chemical ecologists have successfully isolated anti-aggregation chemicals that act as naturally occurring repellents.  Two separate pheromones are available to manage mountain pine beetle and Douglas-fir beetle.  Please note, these chemicals are species-specific so the correct pheromone must be used to target a specific beetle.

Pheromones are only effective in preventing beetle attacks; they cannot save a tree after it has been attacked.

There are two companies distributing pheromones to the United States:

Synergy Semiochemical Corp.

Box 50008, South Slope RPO

Burnaby, B. C. Canada V5J 5G3

Phone: 604-454-1122

http://www.semiochemical.com

Contech, Inc.

7572 Progress Way

Delta, B. C. Canada V4G 1E9

Phone: 604-940-9944

https://www.contech-inc.com

The “Pesticide Act and Administrative Rules” of Montana require that a person selling or charging to apply pheromones have a valid pesticide applicator/dealer license.  If you are interested in applying for an applicator or dealer license, please contact the Montana Department of Agriculture at 406-444-5400.  Homeowners and landowners applying verbenone or MCH on their own property do not need a license to purchase or apply it.

VERBENONE for mountain pine beetle

Verbenone works against mountain pine beetle only; not pine engravers, red turpentine beetle, or western pine beetle.  If you have current beetle activity in the immediate vicinity of the tree(s) you wish to protect, be sure to accurately identify mountain pine beetle versus western pine beetle or red turpentine beetle.

  • Apply between June 15th and July 1st. 
  • Read the pesticide label and use proper personal protective equipment as directed!
  • Protect individual trees by placing two pouches on the stem; one each on the northwest and northeast side, if accessible.  Use three pouches for trees larger than 24 inches circumference at chest height.
  • Protect landscape trees by placing approximately 30 per acre in a grid pattern; 30 pouches per acre will be spaced approximately 40 feet apart.  The aim is to permeate the stand with the verbenone.  If following a grid pattern, it is not absolutely necessary to hang verbenone on a host tree if only a non-host tree (Douglas-fir, juniper, etc.), snag, fencepost, etc. is available.
  • Packets last for only one season and need to be replaced each year that protection is desired.
  • More specifics on verbenone.

 

MCH for Douglas-fir beetle

Methyl-cyclo-hexanone (MCH) works against Douglas-fir beetle only. 

  • Apply by April 15thEarlier applications of MCH may dry out prior to beetle flight, so try to hang as close to this date as possible. 
  • Read the pesticide label and use the proper personal protective equipment!
  • Protect individual trees by placing two pouches on the stem; one each on the northwest and northeast side, if accessible.  Use three pouches for trees larger than 24 inches circumference at chest height.
  • Protect landscape trees by placing 33 per acre in a grid pattern; 30 pouches per acre will be spaced approximately 40 feet apart.  The aim is to permeate the stand with the MCH.  If following a grid pattern, it is not absolutely necessary to hang MCH on a host tree if only a non-host (pine, juniper, etc.), snag, fencepost, etc. is available.
  • Packets last for only one season and need to be replaced each year that protection is desired.
  • More specifics on MCH.