Mountain pine bark beetle

Dendroctonus ponderosae

These tiny beetles could have a huge impact on our forestry industry. They can weaken and kill pine trees in just a year or two.

About the mountain pine bark beetle

These beetles can fly 2km to 3km. Their small size means the wind can carry them even further.

They're native to North America, ranging from Canada to Mexico.

Global distribution of mountain pine bark beetle

World map showing distribution of mountain pine bark beetle

Why this is a problem for New Zealand

Our forestry industry depends on pine trees. A single generation of mountain pine bark beetles can kill a pine tree in 1 to 2 years.

The larvae eat the inside of the tree, damaging its system for moving nutrients around the tree. This damage weakens the tree.

The adults eat the bark, which can allow diseases into the tree.

Map of New Zealand showing where mountain pine bark beetle could establish

How it could get here

The beetle could sneak into the country in:

  • lumber
  • crates
  • wooden pallets.

Where you will find it

This beetle can live anywhere there are pine trees. You'll likely see discoloured needles on an infected pine. They could be reddish or yellowed.


Multiple yellow-coloured pine trees across a hillside
View of pines infested by mountain pine beetle in the Rocky Mountain Region (USA).

How to identify the mountain pine bark beetle

The adult beetle is:

  • about 5mm long
  • black
  • round shaped (almost stout).
Adult mountain pine bark beetle. Source: Public domain

Larvae are usually found only inside the tree. They are a C-shaped grub. They are white and legless, with an amber head and dark mouth parts.

If you think you've found the mountain pine bark beetle

Note: This information is a summary of the mountain pine bark beetle's global distribution and potential impacts on New Zealand.

Last reviewed: