Patches offer protection against Pine beetles

Despite recent attempts by the weather to suggest otherwise, spring really is here – in fact well underway and of course that means lots of things happening in the world of nature.

Not everything natural is exciting and wonderful – the mountain pine beetle epidemic is a prime example. It seems to me that the pine beetle and its devastation have dropped out of the news in the past few months even though there are no signs of the epidemic abating. However I have learned through personal experience that you can take action to save the pine trees on your property. Last summer I took my grandkids camping at Monck Provincial Park northeast of Merritt. Outside of the Park the trees were dead or dying but inside the Park they were mostly green and healthy. And this was not just a few exceptional trees – I estimated that outside of the Park approximately 75-85 percent of the trees were dead or dying while inside the Park less than 10 percent were suffering; a really noticeable difference that occurred right at the Park boundary. The magic solution – phemerone patches. Inside the Park pretty well every single tree had a phemerone patch nailed to it while outside the Park none of the trees had these patches. When I got back home I immediately went to the local agricultural supply store and purchased a number of patches – each tree requires one patch. They are not cheap; they come in boxes of two and each box is about $35. However if you consider that a live pine tree in your yard is a valuable asset and that the cost of removing a dead pine tree can be in excess of $700, then $17-18 seems like a good investment. Right now is when the patches should be applied to your trees.

Another less than desirable aspect of spring is the abundance of ticks. There has been a lot of controversy over the past few decades as to whether Lyme disease is carried by Okanagan ticks. The argument seems to be over – and the answer is yes. Other serious diseases can also be transmitted by our ticks – this is not an excuse to avoid going outdoors but do take some simple precautions. Wear long sleeves and long pants and spray your lower legs with something like OFF. Since ticks usually are on your body for several hours before “digging in”, inspect yourself when you get back from your hike – a loose tick is much easier to get rid of than one that has burrowed into your skin. Taking a shower or even a long bath will not get rid of ticks that have already dug in. Recent experiments have shown that ticks can survive under water for at least two weeks!

But don’t let the ticks keep you indoors. Spring in the Okanagan is just a wonderful time to experience nature. Our wildflower period stretches over about two months or more so that while the spectacular display of balsam root “sunflowers” is almost over, many other flowers have yet to show themselves. At higher elevations, such as the Kilpoola Lake area near Richter Pass, the wildflowers typically reach their peak in mid-June. Birds are everywhere – the migration of many of the birds going further north, such as Sandhill Cranes, is finished but some of the local breeders, such as Yellow-breasted chats typically don’t show up until mid- to late May.

An excellent way to get outdoors and enjoy our spectacular South Okanagan is with the Meadowlark Festival taking place May 20th through the 23rd. Many events still have some space available so check it out.
Nature Wise