The biggest infestation of mountain pine beetles in decades is devastating huge tracts of forest in the Western states, USA Today reports; forestry workers say the bugs are killing even more trees than the wildfires ravaging California's forests. The larvae consume the inner bark of trees, usually lodgepole pines, killing the tree—and creating fuel for more fires.
Forestry workers qualify that the beetles are a native species who play an important role in the forest ecosystem. Others warn, however, that rising temperatures mean the bugs are spreading to new areas and attacking species. "This is one of the canary-in-the-coal-mine warning signs," said one.