DENVER -- More than five million acres of trees have been destroyed by beetles in Colorado.
While the mountain pine beetle is declining, the spruce beetle is the most damaging forest insect pest right now, according to an aerial survey by the Colorado State Forest Service and U.S. Forest Service.
The spruce beetle impacted 350,000-acres of higher-elevation trees statewide last year with the largest infestations are in southern and central Colorado, officials said.
Since 1996, spruce beetle outbreaks have killed trees on more than 1.7 million acres in Colorado.
The mountain pine beetle has impacted 3.4 million acres statewide in the last 20 years.
A third beetle, the Douglas-fire beetle is increasing activity on the Western Slope, and impacted 19,000 acres in 2016. Eagle, Garfield and Pitkin counties were all heavily impacted by this beetle in 2016, the Colorado State Forest Service said.
"Information we obtain from this survey helps stimulate real work on the ground and allows us to focus our efforts on priority areas," said Mike Lester, state forester.