The April 4th edition The Nature of Things presents an interesting documentary titled The Beetles Are Coming. Not since John, Paul, George, and Ringo has a beetle invasion had such a dramatic effect. The Northern Pine Beetle is an integral part of British Columbia's ecosystem but since 1994 things have gotten out of had. Things are so out of hand this beetlemania is threatening to sweep the nation.
What stands out most in this episode is the images of the invasion. It is one thing to hear the invasion covers 5.7 million hectares and has destroyed 3 billion dollars worth of timber, it is another to see an all-red evergreen forest, flights of Northern Pine Beetles that look like swarms of locust, or an entire forest of dead pine.
As with any good nature documentary, you cannot be but impressed by the complexity of nature: The Lodge Pole Pine has defenses against the beetle but the beetle uses these defenses to attract other beetles. Enough beetles can kill a 100-year old tree in a day.
Of course, man gets in there and makes things even worse.
The problem now is the beetle has crossed into the boreal forest and all of Canada lies ahead.