Ecological disturbances of forests by insects have a complex array of associated human dimensions presenting complications for natural resource decision making and relationships between stakeholders and managers. This paper discusses the human context of forest disturbances by insects by reviewing four cases of bark beetle forest disturbance from British Columbia in Canada, Bavarian Forest National Park in Germany, the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska, and the north central region of Colorado. Findings and lessons learned from these studies are outlined along with their implications for managing forest disturbances by insects in general. Conclusions focus on the need to assess the broad array of impacts and risks perceived by local residents and the capacity for local action and involvement in managing forest disturbances. Communication and interaction between resource managers and local stakeholders can facilitate the identification of management priorities and potentially reduce some of the risks associated with forest disturbances by insects.