Jun 19, 2016

Trees of life: tiny beetles turn Californian forests into tinder for energy

Fresno County, CA
Placer County, CA
USA
by
Alison Moodie
,
The Guardian
Bark beetles were particularly active in an area in Northern California where a wildfire, called Valley Fire, spread quickly and destroyed hundreds of homes last year. Photo: Noah Berger / Reuters
Bark beetles were particularly active in an area in Northern California where a wildfire, called Valley Fire, spread quickly and destroyed hundreds of homes last year. Photo: Noah Berger / Reuters

California’s record four-year drought has primed its coastal forests for a bug invasion. Millions of native bark beetles, which thrive in warm conditions, are burrowing into trees weakened by a lack of water, leaving in their wake dry, dead wood that becomes natural tinder. The beetles and drought have already killed off 29m trees, with tens of millions more expected to become casualties