Drought and bark beetles are a deadly combination—already killing over 29 million trees in California’s forests in 2015 alone. The numbers continue to rise. More dead trees mean more fuel for wildfire.
Here's what you can do to reduce your risk of wildfire and promote tree health.
Create Defensible Space
Protect your family, home and property by creating and maintaining defensible space now.
- Creating defensible space is essential to improve your home’s chance of surviving a wildfire. It's the buffer you create between a building on your property and the grass, trees, shrubs, or any wildland area that surround it.
- This space is needed to slow or stop the spread of wildfire and it protects your home from catching fire—either from direct flame contact or radiant heat.
- Defensible space is also important for the protection of the firefighters defending your home.
Read more about defensible space at CAL FIRE.
Plan Evacuation Routes
Prepare now in the event of an evacuation. If your family needs to evacuate, know the proper evacuation procedures and routes as determined by your local OES office.
Learn more about evacuating yourself and your family at Ready.gov.
- There is nothing that can be done to save a tree once it is infested with bark beetles.
- Improving tree growing conditions through selective tree removal (thinning) reduces competition for limited water and nutrients. The best time to thin is during non-drought periods.
- Know what tree species you have and identify individuals that are most susceptible to drought and bark beetles. Also identify trees for removal that may be hazardous to life or property.
- Individual treatments such as preventive spraying with insecticides, the use of synthetic products that repel bark beetles, supplemental watering and prompt removal/disposal of infested trees may all be effective depending on the situation and the tree species at risk.
- Avoid ineffective and unproven treatments. Treatments such as applying worm castings to the trunk, spraying insecticides into bark beetle entrance/exit holes or applying acephate via an encapsulated implant have no scientific support for being effective.
- Consult with a forest health specialist to determine the best treatments for your trees as there are several factors to consider and pros and cons to every treatment.
- Do not leave cut green limbs, branches or wood in the vicinity of live trees. Some beetles are attracted to this material and doing so could result in more tree mortality.
- Monitor how much water you use
- Talk to family members about their water use and ways to reduce it.
- Fix leaks, dripping taps and don't leave taps running. Reuse water wherever possible.
- When it is safe to do so—water used to rinse vegetables could be used to water plants.
- Capture rainwater for garden and other outside uses and make space for rainwater.
- Contact your water company, or the Environment Agency for more water saving tips.