MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - The mountain pine beetle has devastated huge swaths of forest in the Rockies, and scientists fear the insects could threaten the majestic pines of Minnesota and states farther east someday.

Initial results from a three-year, $250,000 research project by the University of Minnesota and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture back up some fears about the risk.

The scientists wanted to confirm in the first phase of the study whether the beetles would find the most common species of pines in Minnesota delicious and nutritious.

Experiments this summer show that they do.

There's no evidence that the insects have gained a beachhead in the state yet.

But the researchers caution that they can't be sure that some pests aren't already hiding someplace - waiting until conditions are ripe to launch an attack.