While beetles are normal in our forests, the drought stressed pine trees of today are not able to emit enough sap to successfully stave off a bark beetle attack. Without enough water, the trees are unable to protect themselves with an adequate amount of sap which helps to push the beetles from the bark. Long periods of cold weather dwindle the beetle populations in winter, but we rarely experience these conditions anymore. Open pruning wounds created at the wrong time of year are a direct invitation to bark beetles, who chew out tunnels and lay their eggs inside the tree. These eggs hatch as larvae and begin feeding and mining tunnels under the tree bark; ultimately, emerging as adults. Adult beetles are warm weather insects and are typically first seen in late spring. However, due to the changes in our weather, beetles have been seen as soon as February and as late as December. Best practice for good forest management is to refrain from pruning pine trees from February to mid-October. Do not leave freshly cut wood piles on your property unless covered by heavy 10mil clear plastic sheets in a sunny location. Do not leave cut slash piles on your property as this is a prime breeding ground for bark beetles, which are attracted to the scent of freshly cut pine. Beware of tree companies who offer to spray trees to control bark beetles. Not only is this costly but can also be harmful to your family and the surrounding wildlife. Chemical control is rarely successful and is more likely to kill beneficial insects and birds than the bark beetle.