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The mountain pine beetle Dendroctonus ponderosae, is a species of bark beetle native to the forests of western North America from Mexico to central British Columbia. It has a hard black exoskeleton, and measures approximately 5 mm, about the size of a grain of rice. Mountain pine beetles inhabit ponderosa, whitebark, lodgepole, Scotch, and limber pine trees. Normally, these insects play an important role in the life of a forest, attacking old or weakened trees, and speeding development of a younger forest. However, unusual hot, dry summers and mild winters in central British Columbia during the last few years, along with forests filled with mature lodgepole pine, have led to an unprecedented epidemic. It may be the largest forest insect blight ever seen in North America. Climate change is said by some to have contributed to the size and severity of the outbreak, and the outbreak itself may, with similar infestations, have significant effects on the capability of northern forests to remove greenhouse gas from the atmosphere. Because of its impact on forestry, the transcriptome and the genome have been sequenced. This is only the second beetle genome to be sequenced to date. (via Freebase)