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Drought could reverse drop in Nevada tree beetles

Drought could reverse drop in Nevada tree beetles

CREATED Aug 10, 2014

RENO, Nev. (AP) -- Scientists say there's been a significant reduction in the amount of Nevada forest under assault from bark beetles and similar bugs, but they fear lingering drought will further weaken trees and make them more susceptible to future attacks.

Nevada Division of Forestry forest health specialist Gene Phillips says aerial surveys show populations of the tree-killing insects plummeted across the state last year compared to 2012 -- from more than 500,000 acres to only about 50,000.

Phillips tells the Reno Gazette-Journal the infestations include mountain pine beetles and the Pinyon Engraver beetle.

He says its likely part of a normal boom-bust cycle in the population of the critters and probably won't last if the 3-year-old drought continues.