At least one thing is thriving because of Idaho's lack of water this year: beetle infestations that threaten thousands of acres of the state's timber.

Swarms of Western and Mountain Pine beetles are infesting large stands of ponderosa and lodgepole pines throughout Idaho.Meanwhile, the state Department of Lands continues its search in Coeur d'Alene for eggs of the gypsy moth, another nemesis of timber.

Truman Puchbauer, a timber staff officer with the Boise National Forest, said the infestations of Western and Mountain Pine beetles are the worst he has seen. The population explosion of the beetles, about the size of a grain of rice, was sparked by the drought, he said.

However, the infestations, which vary in severity across the state, are expected to threaten timber supply only in isolated areas, said Ron Ma-honey, a extension forester with the University of Idaho.

In the Boise National Forest, the beetle infestation could wipe out up to 10 percent of the forest's ponderosa pine, considered the most valuable tree species in Idaho, said Forest Service entomologist Ralph Thier.

The forest has about 250,000 acres, or 2.8 billion board feet, of marketable ponderosa pine.

The infestation also could chew up a large part of the forest's 140,000 acres, or 1.2 billion board feet of lodgepole pine, he said.

U.S. Forest Service officials said the Western Pine Beetle population explosion started about two years with the beginning of the drought and is continuing to worsen.

The Mountain Pine Beetle infestation has been around for 5-10 years in some areas, but the drought has exacerbated the problem.

A drought dries out the trees and makes them more susceptible to beetle onslaughts.

The Western Beetle attacks ponderosa pine and the Mountain Pine Beetle usually attacks lodgepole pine, Puchbauer said. But, in the Boise Forest, Mountain Beetles are moving into the ponderosa stands, he said.

Although it's known that infestations of the beetles are occurring throughout the state, details were not available on the problem outside of the Boise Forest.

Gary Allen, a timber staff officer with the Payette Forest, said infestations of both types of beetles have not gotten out of hand in his forest.

Mahoney said the people who are likely to be most affected by the infestations are Idahoans with homes in areas with infected stands.

"If you have a home on Payette Lake that's surrounded by lodgepole pine that are dying, then that's a pretty bad problem for the homeowner" because it devalues his land, he said.

Land Department crews continue their search for the gypsy moth in Coeur d'Alene neighborhoods. The moth has killed millions of acres of forest nationwide and 26 egg clusters were discovered in Sandpoint recently. The moth has no indigenous enemies, said Ladd Livingston, supervisor of the insect and disease section for the agency.