Ecologists say the sub-zero temperatures Wyoming has been experiencing probably are not extreme enough to kill off bark beetles in the area.
One of the reasons the beetle kill epidemic has been so severe in recent years is that the region has not experienced cold enough weather to freeze out the beetles. UW botanist Dan Tinker says this cold snap is no exception. He says temperatures would need to be 30 degrees below zero for several days in a row to kill the beetles.
“This is cold, but it’s maybe not cold enough,” Tinker said. “We could see some limited mortality, but I don’t think it’s going to be this forest-wide end of the bark beetle epidemic.”
Tinker says bark beetles have natural defenses against the cold.
“When they go into that larval stage, which is what they’re in right now, they metabolize a glycerol, and that acts as an antifreeze,” he said.