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Drier Weather Brings In Tree-Killing Bark Beetles

Drought conditions allow bark beetles to thrive, according to the Dept. of Forestry—and trees can suffer as a result.

Posted: May 2, 2018 2:37 PM
Updated: May 2, 2018 2:38 PM

SALEM, Ore. — With drought conditions already anticipated in Klamath County, the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) is forecasting dry conditions across the state—thanks to a warm end to last summer and an unseasonably dry winter.

Drought alone can kill trees, but the ODF warns against "secondary attacks" from bark beetles over the summer.

“Above average temperatures this spring mean beetles may come out sooner than normal. If this happens, beetles may attack trees sooner than usual,” said ODF Entomologist Christine Buhl.

According to ODF, most varieties of bark beetle are a normal part of a healthy ecosystem. The beetles will naturally target and kill the sick or less vigorous trees that compete with healthier trees. However, dry or drought conditions can stress even healthy trees—leaving them vulnerable to attack by bark beetle populations that then grow out of hand.


ODF encourages tree and forest owners to watch for telltale drought symptoms—dead tops, dead branches, thinning canopies and stressed cone crops. They encourage that concerned citizens consult with an arborist or forester to brainstorm methods to keep healthy trees alive in spite of low precipitation.

Steps the public can take might include removing some less-healthy trees or weeds to allow the remaining trees to get enough food and water during dry spells. ODF says to avoid fertilizing and planting less drought-tolerant trees such as the Douglas fir in areas historically domanted by more drought-tolerant trees like oak or pine.

After the 2012-2015 drought, the ODF reports, Oregon had one good year of rain. However, it takes much longer than that in favorable conditions for trees to recover. After a long, hot summer and a dry winter, Oregon soils are not as saturated as ODF officials anticipated.

“Given the recent drought and below average rain and snow this winter, trees will likely be drought-stressed this season - unless precipitation boosts back to normal levels,” Buhl said. “What we need is a longer, lighter rain to allow trees time to soak up the water.”

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 391099

Reported Deaths: 5161
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah60298839
Washington41981395
Marion39886506
Clackamas32773378
Lane30113355
Jackson24880360
Deschutes23557185
Umatilla15126180
Linn14637179
Douglas13375291
Josephine10148244
Yamhill9762143
Klamath9053146
Polk8212100
Benton609738
Malheur592487
Coos5664106
Columbia430455
Jefferson420266
Lincoln362152
Union338755
Crook334056
Wasco316146
Clatsop261835
Baker219833
Tillamook216645
Hood River213737
Morrow197525
Curry191939
Harney119933
Grant108515
Lake105416
Wallowa75713
Sherman1913
Gilliam1854
Wheeler1141
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 5083462

Reported Deaths: 74473
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles152713227166
San Diego4069274335
Riverside3876785358
San Bernardino3745435962
Orange3343985725
Sacramento1683542443
Kern1576621804
Fresno1567952254
Santa Clara1520891925
Alameda1251761504
San Joaquin1075591834
Ventura1040031190
Contra Costa1037721046
Stanislaus915481417
Tulare860871096
San Francisco56909669
San Mateo56320629
Monterey52488626
Solano47671357
Santa Barbara47293549
Merced45053667
Sonoma43168412
Placer42141470
Imperial38477773
Kings35206363
San Luis Obispo31476359
Madera26194311
Shasta26081451
Butte25455314
Santa Cruz22248224
Yolo21558257
Marin18465249
El Dorado18301166
Sutter14571186
Napa13420104
Yuba1076089
Tehama10275130
Humboldt10158119
Nevada10019105
Mendocino857197
Lassen796756
San Benito781578
Tuolumne773090
Lake7043110
Amador577366
Siskiyou474755
Glenn457436
Calaveras441588
Del Norte375542
Colusa325220
Inyo256646
Plumas19367
Mono18784
Mariposa160018
Trinity99717
Modoc7655
Unassigned3220
Sierra2180
Alpine1080
Out of CA00
Medford
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Brookings
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