Insect Outbreaks Kill Forests and Release Carbon

Insects are essential to a healthy forest environment, but bad bugs are bad news for forests. Throughout North America and the world, forests are experiencing some of the worst outbreaks of insects and diseases in recorded history.

As for the forests' future, researcher Jeffrey Hicke quips: "I'd rather be a beetle than a tree."

There are a cast of characters causing unprecedented levels of mortality to trees across millions of acres of North American forests, from the New Jersey Pine Barrens to the deserts of the Southwest.