DROUGHT conditions have fuelled concerns over the unwanted return of a beetle that can destroy masses of trees in the green spaces of the Vega Baja.
The Tomicus Piniperda beetle can wreak havoc on diseased or very dry pine trees in hilly areas, which was the case back in 2014.
In the Sierra de Orihuela alone, at least 2,000 trees fell victim to it, as the beetle spread to adjoining municipalities like Benejuzar, Callosa de Segura, and Pilar de la Horadada, with councils having to enact emergency plans.
An extensive programme of reforestation took place coupled with extra measures to keep the beetle at bay.
Benejuzar council- helped by environmental groups- has set up 10 beetle traps in trees to monitor the pest across 247 hectares of the local mountain range.
The half-centimetre long beetle forms large groups that attack pine tree trunks, stopping sap circulating around trees, which leads to their destruction.
The pest is directly related to droughts and enjoys breeding in dry conditions.
Though the situation is under control, the traps will check on the beetle’s presence and whether increasing numbers will pose a threat to the pines.
The traps contain special pheromones to attract and capture the beetle without the need to use pesticides that could harmful to nature.