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Shoot! Foiled Again! Using Chemicals to Discourage the Pine Shoot Beetle

This article is from Issue Invasive Species - Vol. 8 No. 1.

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The pine shoot beetle is an invasive species in the Great Lakes region of the United States. The pine shoot beetle was brought to the United States from Europe, Asia, and northern Africa. The scientists in this study asked whether the pheromones that the invasive beetle uses could be used to deter them from attacking pine trees.

Welcome to the Invasive Species edition

Note to Educators

Invasive Species Lesson Plan

Student Notes Page

Reflection Section Answer Guide

Education Standards Correlations


Meet the scientists that contributed to this article:

"Science Topics" covered in this article:
  • Life Science
  • People and Science
  • Technology and Science

"Environmental Topics" covered in this article:
  • Protecting Trees and Other Plants (Students)
  • Vegetation Management (Educators)
  • Vegetation Protection (Fire, Insects, Endangered Species) (Educators)

Regions covered in this article:
  • Alaska
  • Forest Products Lab
  • Intermountain
  • International Institute of Tropical Forestry
  • Northern
  • Pacific Northwest
  • Pacific Southwest
  • Rocky Mountain
  • Southern
  • Southwestern

"Thinking About Science Themes" covered in this article:
Science is a process of discovery that helps society by answering questions. The questions involve a specific problem that, when solved, will improve something that society values. Let's take this research as an example. Society places a value on healthy pine trees for a number of reasons. In this study, the scientists studied pine trees that people were going to use during the winter holiday season to decorate their homes. When an insect attacks and damages or kills a large number of holiday pine trees, society considers this a problem. Fewer holiday trees might mean higher prices for the people who want to buy them. Trees damaged by insects might also be less attractive. The problem can be stated as a question, such as 'What can be done to prevent an insect from attacking pine trees?' Scientists can ask many different questions that stem from the same problem. In your own words, develop another question that scientists could ask, based on the problem of insects attacking pine trees.
Specific "Thinking About Science" Themes:
  • Scientific Topics
  • The Scientific Process
  • Uses and Benefits of Science

"Thinking About Environmental Themes" covered in this article:
You know that plants have fragrances. Think about the fragrances of flowers and newly mown grass. Scientists call these fragrances volatiles (vol uh tilz). They are released when a chemical inside the plant is exposed to air. When exposed to air, the chemical evaporates, which causes it to be dispersed in the air. Many plants have volatiles that humans cannot smell. Insects, however, can smell many of these volatiles. Most insects smell volatiles using special cells on the surface of their antennae. The volatile attracts the insects to the plant. They can then use the plant for food, as a place to lay their eggs, or as habitat. Name one example of an insect that uses its antennae to find food. In this research, the scientists were interested in finding out how to prevent a particular insect from being attracted to pine trees. In this case, when the insect smells the volatile and finds the pine tree, its use of the tree damages the tree and can even kill it.
Specific "Thinking About the Environment" Themes:
  • Ecosystems
  • Regulation

NSE Standards covered in this article:
  • Abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry (A)
  • Diversity and adaptations of organisms (C)
  • Nature of science (G)
  • Populations and ecosystems (C)
  • Regulation and behavior (C)
  • Reproduction and heredity (C)
  • Risks and benefits (F)
  • Science and technology in society (F)
  • Science as a human endeavor (G)
  • Understandings about scientific inquiry (A)