The 2023 Arizona monsoon season was drier and hotter than normal.

That did not help tree health at Mount Lemmon.

Burn scars from previous fires are visible across the mountain.

While wildfires are natural events, Mitchell Lannan with the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire says the drought is making them more damaging.

It stresses the trees out, which makes them more susceptible to insects and disease,” Lannan said.

Dead or weak trees make wildfires worse.

So today, Lannan is putting his entomology degree to use.

I love working with bugs, Im an entomologist,” Lannan said. “I love getting out in the field and seeing all the insects that are out there and helping the public with all the pest insects.

Hes on Mount Lemmon looking for signs of bark beetles; insects about the size of a grain of rice that burrow into trees and kill them.

And he spots a tree in trouble.

This tree has bark beetles in it, you can tell because with the pitch tube up there, this is where the bark beetle entered the tree, and theres sap because the tree tried to push the beetle out,” Lannan said.

“You can see the tree was unsuccessful because its discolored.

Fortunately, other trees in the area do not have signs of bark beetles.

Other than sap, Lannan says theres other signs to look for if you have trees on your own property.

Look for exit holes, little pin sized holes where the adults have left, and look for saw dust around the base of the tree, Lannan said.

The Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire management is reminding visitors to Mount Lemmon to completely extinguish and cool all bonfires before leaving any campsites.

More wildfire prevention guidelines are on their website.