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    Author(s): Josh McDaniel; Rick KelseyDoug Westlind
    Date: 2019
    Source: Science Findings 217. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 5 p.
    Publication Series: Science Findings
    Station: Pacific Northwest Research Station
    PDF: Download Publication  (4.0 MB)


    Foresters have long known that trees under stress from fire injury are vulnerable to bark beetle attacks. Rick Kelsey and Doug Westlind, researchers with the Pacific Northwest Research Station, have developed a new mechanistic model to explain how physiological changes cause heat stress in woody tissues exposed to sublethal fire temperatures and produce a chemical signal that attracts some bark beetles.

    When heat disrupts normal cell functions and energy production, ethanol is synthesized as a short-term survival strategy. If enough ethanol accumulates and is released to the atmosphere (mixed with resin volatiles), it becomes a strong attractant for red turpentine beetles, which target tree locations with high ethanol concentrations.

    Kelsey and Westlind have shown that ethanol interacts synergistically with 3-carene, a dominant ponderosa pine resin monoterpene. In a trapping study, red turpentine beetles were more attracted to lures combining ethanol and 3-carene than lures with ethanol or 3-carene alone.

    Understanding ecosystem responses to fire can help managers characterize forest health and plan for postfire management. The results also hold promise for developing simple ethanol detection methods for monitoring tree stress. Real-time feedback on ethanol levels could help forest managers quickly assess which trees to leave following a fire and which to cull.

    Publication Notes

    • Visit PNW's Publication Request Page to request a hard copy of this publication.
    • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
    • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.


    McDaniel, Josh; Kelsey, Rick; Westlind, Doug. 2019. Alluring signals: The role of ethanol in attracting bark beetles to heat-stressed trees. Science Findings 217. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 5 p.


    Heat stress, fire injury, bark beetle, ethanol, 3-carene.

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