Outdoors

Tussock moth infestation hits Inland Northwest

Tussock moths chewed their way across 68,000 acres of the Idaho Panhandle last summer, leaving behind red-topped trees.

The native pests primarily attack Douglas-fir trees, grand fir and subalpine fir trees. Aerial surveys indicate that the moth outbreak also affected 1,600 acres in eastern Spokane County and about 9,000 acres in the Blue Mountains of southeast Washington and northeast Oregon, according to the Washington Department of Natural Resources.

Tussock moth outbreaks typically peak in 10 year cycles. The outbreak in Spokane County will probably subside this year, but the Idaho Panhandle could see an increase in the number of acres affected, forest entomologists predict.

Tussock moth caterpillars feed on both old and new foliage. Though the trees appear dead, many survive if they can form buds that can last through the winter. However, repeat defoliation can stunt tree growth, cause top-kill and may make trees more susceptible to later attacks from bark beetles.

Outbreaks typically collapse within two to four years, due to a build up of natural enemies, including a viral disease. Birds and parasitic wasps also help keep tussock moth populations in check.


There are six comments on this story »


Rich Landers

Rich Landers

More Outdoors Columns »
More Outdoors Blog Posts »

Most recent column

Cautious handling a must during catch- and-release steelhead fishing

If there’s a consensus about anything in Northwest fishing circles it’s that steelhead and salmon deserve the highest respect. Their migrations up and down natal streams and survival in the predator-infested nightmare of the ocean set them apart in the angler’s heart. But some fishermen …


Recent blog posts


Photo: Nighthawk takes a break

WILDLIFE WATCHING -- As many times as I've seen common nighthawks swooping and scooping bugs out of the sky with their distinctive staccato chirps, I've never seen one resting on ...


Outdoors Calendar

Submit Your Event »




Outdoors Photography

More SR Photo Galleries »
More Reader Photos »


Close

Sections


Profile

Close

Contact the Spokesman

Main switchboard:
(509) 459-5000
(800) 338-8801
Newsroom:
(509) 459-5400
(800) 789-0029
Customer service:
(800) 338-8801