Design Trend: Beetle Kill Wood

beautiful beetle kill wood

Though you may not recognize it by name, odds are you’ve been somewhere that is incorporating beetle kill wood into it’s design. It is salvaged from the western forest and is demanding unbelievable prices in certain markets. In fact, beetle kill wood is rapidly becoming one of the hottest design trends in 2013.

What is Beetle Kill Wood

Beetle kill wood is lumber that has been salvaged from trees killed by the Mountain Pine Beetle, which attacks several species of western evergreens but is causing unprecedented damage to the Lodgepole Pine, native to elevations between 6,000 and 11,000 feet above sea level. Lodgepoles can be found in western states including Colorado, Utah, Idaho as well as parts of Washington and Oregon.

Although the Mountain Pine Beetle has long been a normal part of the western forest’s life cycle—killing weakened or older trees and thereby speeding the growth of younger trees—unusually dry summers combined with a mild winters has led to a growing pandemic among the Lodgepole pine population. Much like the Walnut Twig Beetle and Thousand cankers disease, Mountain Pine Beetle lays its eggs in the bark of a host tree, also introducing blue stain fungus into the tree.

While the populations of these beetles have historically been kept in check by winter freezes and summer moisture, the combination of mild winters and hot, dry summers have led to a beetle explosion.
The blue fungus weakens a host trees native defenses allowing Western Pine Beetle to carry out its life cycle without interruption.

The combination of beetle infestation and blue stain fungus has proven quite fatal to the trees and can rapidly destroy large sections of healthy forest.

While the populations of these beetles have historically been kept in check by winter freezes and summer moisture, the combination of mild winters and hot, dry summers have led to a beetle explosion. Further, warmer temperatures have expanded the beetles native habitat by over half a million acres alone. In all, the recent pandemic of Mountain Pine Beetle has killed off an area of western forest about the size of Rhode Island.

Beetle Kill Wood in Design

The recent uptick in forest fire severity has led to a growing concern with removing the dead trees left in Mountain Pine Beetle’s wake in order to reduce the available fuel for future wildfires. Luckily a growing design trend is aiding in this process. The silver lining to the beetle kill facing the western forest is the fact that lumber salvaged from these dead trees gains a unique, beautiful coloration that is growing immensely in popularity.

It turns out the Beetle Kill trees provide beautiful lumber to use in flooring, ceiling paneling and many other design applications—the stuff has grown into one of the hottest design trends among architects from Colorado to California. The wood has distinct areas of blue gray and white tones along with occasional bright blue or green streaks that are so vivid that wood appears to have been painted.

While we don’t stock Beetle Kill Wood (yet), we do offer a number of rustic and design grade lumber options as well as hardwood slabs that are not typical to most Ohio sawmills and hardwood lumber suppliers. Check out our lumber section for more information about hardwood lumber from Timber Works.

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