Bark Beetles of the Southern California Forests

Frequently Asked Questions

No. A variety of factors have led to the current state of our forests, including stand density, drought and air pollution. Once the beetles have taken advantage of all of the available conifers, their populations will be reduced to normal levels. The seed stock in the forest soils and the young seedlings and saplings currently on the forests will eventually mature to repopulate the forests.

There is no straight forward answer to this question. There are vast numbers of seeds, seedlings and saplings in the forest that will mature to replace the mature trees killed by bark beetles, providing the forest receives adequate precipitation. The wildfires of October 2003 will also play a role in forest regeneration. Isolated patches of forest may not see the regeneration of pines, but pines will persist on a forest wide scale.

No. The beetles will continue to spread throughout the forests until all of the vulnerable trees are consumed. Eventually the beetles will run out of trees to feed on and reproduce in which will lead to a die back of the beetles and a return to normal population levels.

Decades of fire suppression has led to the build up of fuels in the Southern California forests. The forests are crowded with dense stands of mature, water stressed trees that will readily burn during a large forest fire. The likelihood of a fire occurring depends on the ignition source. The arson initiated Old Fire on the San Bernardino National Forest of October 2003 showed that the dead trees ignited easily and burned hotter and faster than the living trees containing minimal moisture, but all of the vegetation, both living and dead, burned during the wind driven firestorm.

No. Yellow jackets are not bark beetle predators and their intentional release would not aid in bark beetle control.

San Bernardino County Museum