Image of the Week - Beetle Damage in the Black Hills
Ponderosa pine forests in the Black Hills of South Dakota are the focus of this week’s USGS Image of the Week.
Mountain pine beetles are about the size of a grain of rice, so of course we can’t see them from space in satellite images. What is visible is what the beetles can do to a pine forest. The washed-out pink color indicates large areas of standing dead or damaged trees.
Cold winters normally kill beetle eggs and keep the population down. Recent winters have been warmer than normal. Prolonged dry conditions in the early 2000s also weakened the trees and made them easier for the beetles to attack.
These factors together led to a massive epidemic.
Each week, the Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center highlights a new satellite image featuring striking changes to the Earth's surface. Our images come form locations around the world.