Guidance

Larger eight-toothed European spruce bark beetle (Ips typographus)

Information about the larger eight-toothed European spruce bark beetle, including how to report sightings.

Remove storm damaged trees: action required

All landowners, managers and timber processors should remain vigilant for Ips typographus, and it is important to continue taking the necessary action, to rapidly remove storm damaged trees in their area.

With significant storm damage previously reported across the South East of England, spruce trees that have fallen or snapped in storms significantly increases the chances of an establishment of Ips typographus occurring in spring/summer if another flight occurs from the continent. We recommend that spruce continue to be walked, with fallen or snapped trees identified and destroyed where possible. Ips typographus feeds on live but significantly weakened trees, with snapped stems down to 8cm diameter being a key target. These trees will have lower resin pressure as they can’t draw water up from the roots, which weakens their ability to repel Ips attacks. Trees which have been pushed over but which are leaning or hung up with roots still largely intact are not a significant risk, as they will still be able to draw water. Older, dead trees are not a risk for establishment.

Chipping or burning are suitable methods of destruction, but if this is not possible, the wood can be sawn, dragged into a pile, and covered with a weighed down tarpaulin with the edges tucked in and weighed down. This will speed up the rotting process, rendering material unsuitable in time.

Any woodland owner, manager or timber processor in the demarcated areas, need to get authorisation for removal of damaged trees. Please see below for more detail on authorisations and contact Ipstypographus.authorisation@forestrycommission.gov.uk.

Overview

The larger eight-toothed European spruce bark beetle (Ips typographus) is considered a serious pest on spruce in Europe and has recently been found in the wider environment in England as part of routine plant health surveillance activity.

The beetle is mainly a secondary pest, preferring stressed or weakened trees. However, under the right environmental conditions, beetle numbers can increase enough to result in attacks on living trees.

If left uncontrolled, the beetle, in association with pathogenic fungi (particularly the blue stain fungus Endoconidiophora polonica), has the potential to cause significant damage to Britain’s spruce-based forestry and timber industries.

There is no evidence that Ips typographus is spreading in England; the latest establishments are likely to have come directly from the continent and are not related to the original 2018 finding.

Photograph of an eight-toothed spruce bark beetle on some timber

Eight-toothed European spruce bark beetle (Ips typographus)

Symptoms

Adult beetles are dormant and hibernate over winter under the bark of trees, logs and leaf litter. They then re-emerge in spring, when the temperature rises above 20°C.

The beetle prefers stressed or weakened trees e.g. windblown, damaged and recently felled spruce trees, where, under the right environmental conditions, beetle numbers can increase. Inspection of trees in this category should be a priority.

Also look for standing individual and groups of dead trees. This arises when the beetles ‘mass attack’ trees, overcoming the trees’ usual defences by a combination of large numbers and blue stain fungus carried by adult beetles. Under the right environmental conditions, this phase can lead to extensive tree deaths.

Adult females lay eggs along a linear gallery system from which larval galleries radiate, becoming wider as the larvae grow. The pattern shows in the bark and in the surface of the wood, and is unique to Ips typographus. This symptom should be looked for in any dead trees, whether standing or fallen.

Please note, the larger eight-toothed spruce bark beetle (Ips typographus) can often be confused with the great spruce bark beetle (Dendroctonus micans). A symptom guide Field symptoms guide Ips typographus (PDF, 844 KB, 3 pages) is available to download from this page to assist with identification.

Reporting sightings

Please remain vigilant for signs of Ips typographus. If you think you have spotted signs of this beetle anywhere in Great Britain then please tell us using our Tree Alert form.

Report suspected sightings in Northern Ireland using Treecheck, the all-Ireland tree pest reporting tool.

Plant Health Ips typographus demarcated area notices

To protect the country against this pest, under powers conferred by The Official Controls (Plant Health and Genetically Modified Organisms) (England) Regulations 2019, the Forestry Commission has introduced a Notice to demarcate an area around the confirmed outbreak sites restricting the movement and methods of forest operations.

A revised Notice (PDF, 261 KB, 4 pages) comes into force on the 20 July 2022 taking over from the Notice (PDF, 265 KB, 4 pages) of the 22 December 2021.

The demarcated area has been extended to cover parts of Hampshire, whilst continuing to cover Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, Surrey, City and County of the City of London, Greater London, East Sussex, West Sussex, Kent and Essex within the boundaries shown in the IPS Demarcated Areas (PDF, 1.61 MB, 1 page) and within the Notice (PDF, 261 KB, 4 pages), which also contains a description of the boundary.

The Notice introduces the following conditions:

(i) Restrictions on the felling of susceptible material without prior notification. Landowners must provide notice of their intention to fell relevant material at least 14 days in advance of any felling in the demarcated areas. Felling may only commence once written authorisation is provided the Forestry Commission.

(ii) Restrictions on the killing of trees (either by ring-barking, chemical injection or application, mechanical means, biological control or arboricultural intervention) of the genus Picea A. Dietre over three meters in height, without prior notification. All operations must be agreed in writing by the Forestry Commission.

(iii) Prohibition on susceptible material being left in situ, unless authorised in writing by a plant health inspector.

(iv) Prohibition on the movement of spruce (Picea) material with bark (for example, wood with bark, isolated bark, live trees over 3 metres) that has originated within the demarcated area. Provision is made to enable plant health inspectors to authorise movements and processing of spruce material with bark from the demarcated area where this can be achieved without risking the spread of Ips typographus. Authorisations can be requested with the applications forms Application to receive and process Spruce V1 (PDF, 176 KB, 1 page) and Authorisation to process Spruce V1 (PDF, 198 KB, 4 pages).

Processing (or utilisation as biomass) of spruce material which has originated in the demarcated area may only be undertaken at premises authorised by the Forestry Commission to receive this material.

For authorisation to commence felling, or to dispatch timber from a harvesting site, within the demarcated area please contact ipstypographus.authorisation@forestrycommission.gov.uk.  For authorisation to process spruce material that has originated from the demarcated area please use the links to application forms above or contact the email address.

Non-spruce conifer timber that is bark-free is not subject to the same movement restrictions, so it can be moved and processed without need for inspection or authorisation.

Plant passports must not be used when moving spruce conifer material with bark that originates in the area demarcated for Ips typographus. All other non-spruce conifer species with bark originating in the area demarcated for Ips typographus must be moved with a plant passport

For further information Plant Passporting see Register as a professional operator to trade in wood, issue plant passports and apply ISPM15 marking.

Export Guidelines

  • Guidance on exporting wood and wood products to the EU (and rest of the world) can be found on the GOV.UK page Export wood, wood products and bark from Great Britain. For exporting to countries in the EU which don’t have a pest free areas status for Ips typographus – no phytosanitary export certificate is required.

  • Any movement of spruce from within the Demarcated Area to a point of export must still to be authorised by the Forestry Commission, and any point of despatch would also require authorisation by the Forestry Commission as a place to receive and process material. For authorisations, contact: ipstypographus.authorisation@forestrycommission.gov.uk

Tree Health Pilot scheme

Landowners and managers in the IPS Demarcated Areas (PDF, 1.61 MB, 1 page) may qualify for support to fell and restock woodlands under our new Tree Health Pilot scheme. Visit the webpage to find out more.

Contingency plan

The larger eight-toothed spruce bark beetle (Ips typographus) – contingency plan is under review. Visit the plant health portal contingency plans for more information.

Further information

You can find more-detailed information about this pest on the Forest Research website.

You can also sign up the FC e-Alert providing the latest information on tree pests and disease and grants/funding support. Sign up now.

Published 1 February 2018
Last updated 31 October 2022 + show all updates
  1. Added information: impact on Spruce Christmas Trees

  2. New section added: 'Export Guidelines'

  3. Updated: revised Notice which comes into force on the 20 July 2022 taking over from the Notice of the 22 December 2021; also updated - the IPS demarcated area map.

  4. Update to guidance for what to do during warmer weather.

  5. List of authorised processors added to page

  6. Advice added for dealing with storm damage

  7. Ips typographus guide for landowners and managers added to the page

  8. Page updated to reflect that there is no evidence that Ips typographus is spreading in England

  9. Updated guidance on processing (or utilisation as biomass) of spruce material which has originated in the demarcated area

  10. New Notice issued which comes into effect on 22 December 2021.

  11. Notice and Demarcated Area updated.

  12. Updated information for Christmas tree sellers.

  13. Information about the Tree Health Pilot added.

  14. Documents updated: "application to receive and process spruce" and "authorisation to process spruce".

  15. Updated order for the 20 July 2021.

  16. The Ips typographus Q&A has been updated.

  17. Details of how to report suspected sightings of the larger eight-toothed European spruce bark beetle (Ips typographus) in Northern Ireland have been added to this page.

  18. Attached new application and authorisation forms

  19. A revised Notice of the Order has been added to this page.

  20. Page updates and addition of an identification guide.

  21. Additional information including field symptoms guide.

  22. First published.