Short, cylindrical beetles can be as destructive to conifer forests in the Sierra as any wildfire. The beetles are most devastating during drought when trees are weakened. Areas particularly hard hit by the western pine beetle (Dendroctonus brevicomis) are the Tahoe National Forest and other Northern California areas. Its favorite target is the ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa). In spring, the beetle bores winding holes for its eggs between the bark and sapwood, weakening and eventually killing the tree. To combat a beetle infestation, forest managers usually have to chop down the afflicted tree and get it out of the forest.
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