Little creatures, big impact… Tiny insects known as bark beetles are deadly when combined with drought. Together they’ve killed millions of trees, greatly increasing the risk of wildfire in California. When trees are weakened due to lack of water from prolonged drought, they are more susceptible to attacks from bark beetles. Once attacked, the tree will die.

More than 147 million trees have already died from drought and bark beetles in California. In some communities, up to 85 percent of the forest trees have been killed. These dead trees dry out and become quick-burning fuel for wildfire.

A tree’s only defense against bark beetles is sap (pitch), which is produced by a healthy tree. But when a tree is diseased or stressed by drought, it may not be able to produce enough sap to protect it from being overrun by bark beetles. Healthy trees best withstand drought and resist bark beetle attacks.