Herbal tea could help beat beetle infested trees
An ingredient found in herbal tea, verbenone, which is a pheromone, could help stop the number of trees that are being attacked by bark beetles across the west coast of Canada and the United States.
Verbenone is found in rosemary and walnut husks and acts like a pheromone that beetles give off to tell each other that the tree is crowded and they should move on to a new one. When the beetles smell this, they tend to disperse and move on.
However, this is an expensive way of handling the problem and scientists aren't sure how to distribute it yet.
It costs about $110 an acre, compared to $1,000 an acre or more for thinning. Insecticides are also expensive, and kill lots of beneficial insects.
Gillette said she could foresee the technique being used around campgrounds, visitor centers and ski resorts, where it would be desirable to save trees.
Andy Stahl, director of Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics, said it would be fruitless to use across large areas, because the beetles infest only mature trees weakened by factors such as drought, and the infestations are part of a natural cycle that replaces lodgepole pine forests every 100 years.