8 Dec 2023

No breeding population of beetle found in wider environment

Surveys in the woodlands surrounding the port of Grangemouth have revealed no evidence of a wider breeding population of Ips typographus.

The findings come after a thorough series of aerial and ground surveys carried out by Scottish Forestry’s tree health team and expert entomologists from Forest Research. Spruce tree canopy surveys will continue throughout the winter season.

The Ips typographus beetle is normally found in mainland Europe and has had a damaging effect on spruce trees across the continent.

Breeding populations of the beetle have also been found in Kent, Surrey, East Sussex and West Sussex where they are subject to eradication measures.

Scottish Forestry first announced that an Ips typographus beetle had been found in a trap in woodland close to Grangemouth back in September this year. A second finding in a nearby trap is assessed as being part of the same incident. 

James Nott, Head of Tree Health at Scottish Forestry said:

“I am pleased that after comprehensive aerial and ground surveys there have been no findings of these beetles in the wider environment in Scotland. Early indications are that this is an isolated incident involving beetles that have hitchhiked possibly on cargo arriving at the port of Grangemouth . 

“Our surveillance network and traps using pheromone lures, developed by Forest Research, have proved very successful. Trapping will continue at this location and throughout Scotland as part of our ongoing surveillance against pests and diseases.

”I would like to thank all those involved in carrying out the surveys and analysing the findings for all their hard work.” 

An intensive survey of all spruce trees, including windthrow, was carried out in a one kilometre radius of the beetle findings - no detections of Ips typographus were made.

Investigations and modelling using the Met Office dispersion model NAME (Numerical Atmospheric-dispersion Modelling Environment) by the University of Cambridge and Forest Research have shown that it is highly unlikely that the beetles could have been blown from continental Europe or southern England. It would be more likely that the beetles hitchhiked on cargo via the nearby port and were drawn to the traps by the pheromone lures.

Traps are located throughout Scotland as part of the on-going UK tree health surveillance national programme, which includes traps in ports and processors, as well as extensive trapping in woodlands. These traps are active during the warmer months when the beetle is more likely to fly but on-the-ground surveillance takes place year round.

Max Blake, Forest Research Head of Entomology, said: “Forest Research has extensive expertise in surveying and eradicating Ips typographus in Southern England. We’ve supported Scottish Forestry in this surveying work and will continue to do so going forward.”

As a regulated quarantine pest, any breeding populations of Ips typographus found in Scotland will be subject to strict eradication measures to prevent the beetles becoming established and damaging trees.

Several locations in south east England are subject to such measures and Scottish Forestry is working closely with Forestry Commission colleagues to ensure preparedness for any future findings in Scotland.

If anyone wishes to report any suspect findings or tree health problems then please do via TreeAlert.