The size but also the severity of today’s wildfires is a growing concern. Fires that exhibit erratic behavior and burn with more intensity are more likely to leave behind only patches of living landscape.

“There is the extent of the fire and there is the intensity of the fire. When you get these big intense fires, you mostly kill those animals,” said ecologist Brad Shaffer, the director of the UCLA La Kretz Center for California Conservation Science. “If you don’t kill them then when they come back and it’s just a big ash field, there are no plants and therefore no insects. They starve to death.”