Climate Change Forces Beetles to Move to Northern U.S.

It is not new that climate change has been affecting many species on this planet, gradually destroying habitats. Now, scientists announce that climate change forces beetles to move to the northern areas of the United States and southern Canada. These forests will swarm with tree-killing beetles in future decades due to the warm climate.

Over the next 60 years, researchers claim that southern pine beetles will infest areas in Canada and northern of the U.S. This event will likely destroy many habitats and industries. The red-brown insects are only the size of a grain of rice. However, they are much more dangerous than you think. Usually, they feast on the pine-tree bark. Furthermore, scientists indicate that the hotter climate of the southeastern United States and Central America helped these creatures thrive.

However, we all know that recent years were warmer than usual due to climate change. Therefore, the warm weather allowed the beetles to survive during the cold months. They managed to spread far north, reaching New York. Statistics show that the coldest winter night was actually 6 degrees Fahrenheit warmer compared to the last 50 years in several different parts of the U.S.

Climate change will force beetles to move towards Canada and Quebec

Researchers used computer-based climate models to make this prediction. Therefore, their prediction indicates that beetles would march north, along with the Atlantic coast. These insects will infest the forests in the states of Ohio and Mane, flying all the way to Nova Scotia, Canada. The new study indicated that by 2080 the number of beetles would grow, reaching jack-pine and red-pine forests.

They are likely to reach a 270,000 square miles area of the United States and Canada. The affected area will be about the size of Afghanistan. When these little creatures reach those forests, they will not only destroy ecosystems, but they will also affect different key industries from nearby rural areas. Corey Lesk, the lead author of the study and a researcher at Columbia University in New York, tries to inform people about the disaster to come.

He says that residents occupying these regions might be severely affected by these beetles’ hit while the industries they work in will be deterred. Lesk indicates that the areas which were affected by pine beetles in the past experienced severe damage to timber industries. According to the U.S. Forest Service, the damages caused by the swarms of pine beetles were estimated at $100 million per year in timber losses, starting from 1990 to 2004.

Specialists indicate that bark beetles destroy a tree in 2 months

Thousands of this type of insects can destroy a tree in 2-4 months. The adult insects get underneath the bark of the trees and carve S shaped tunnels. In this way, they deprive the tree of feeding, diminishing the intake of needed nutrients until the tree dies.

Bark beetles on the carved bark of a tree

Specialists indicate that bark beetles are able to kill a tree in 2 months.

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Lesk also announces that possible infestations with tree-killing beetles can also affect the tourism industry. If extraordinary forests like the ones from Long Island and the Pine Barrens of New Jersey get destroyed, then it is likely that the number of tourists will diminish. Previous studies have indicated that in Europe the bark beetles have devastated spruce and pine trees in forests from the Swiss Alps to Belarus. All this happened due to an increase in temperatures.

Researchers indicate that land managers decided to try and combat bark beetles by cutting out damaged trees and thinning high-density forests. However, they obtain temporary success. Lesk argues that the most important thing at this point is finding out whether those strategies would be able to cope with the rapid spread of the infestation. This might be a problem especially in regions where people do not have experience in managing the pest.

The effects of pine-devouring beetles will be devastating

This destructive pest gets under the bark of the trees and feeds on the living tissue while introducing blue stain fungi. However, if the tree bark remains cold enough, these beetles are not able to do their job. Unfortunately, climate change forces beetles to spread and grow in number, developing the perfect environment for them. The invasion of bees affected New Jersey too due to its 440,000 acres of pine forests.

The pest is spreading rather quickly moving north from New Jersey. Researchers also indicated that usually, beetles could survive if the bark temperatures are of -10 Celsius degrees. Since 1980, the pest advanced about 40 miles every decade, deterring more and more forests, destroying ecosystems and natural resources. This may also be considered a reason for deforestation since these insects affect a huge number of trees.

Since 2002, the swarm of beetles has been moving approximately 53 miles per decade. They contaminated hundreds of acres of pine trees and devoured so many of them that they seem to compete with human-made activities to cut down on trees. Scientists need to find a way to stop these beetles. Otherwise, the level of pollution will raise even more when the number of trees diminishes.

Swarms of beetles will destroy many forests in the northeastern areas

The team of researchers predicted that the annual minimum air temperature would continue to rise a few degrees more every year. This is what determined scientists to believe that areas like Quebec, southern Ontario, and the northeastern United States will soon have pine beetle-appropriate climates.

Furthermore, experts also predicted that by 2020 the beetles would establish along the Atlantic coastline into Maine. There, they will find more moderate climates that will help them thrive. However, it will take them more time to reach further inland.

According to Ron Corcory, beetles definitely managed to make their mark in New Jersey. Corcory is the southern pine beetle project manager for the state’s Forest Service. Nevertheless, he argues that he noticed that the damages made by bark beetles have stabilized during the last two years. Maybe, we can still hope that specialists will be able to curb the advance of the invasion.

Summing up

Even if scientists predict that climate change will force beetles to move in the northeastern areas, we should not lose hope. Experts will try to find a solution to the problem. Diminishing the effects of climate change will automatically drop down the number of different environmental disasters. We need to fight together to save the planet, protect it from pollution and pests. The forests need to be saved because the rising temperature transforms them into the perfect feast for beetles.

Image Source: Wikipedia

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William E. Eubanks

I'm one of the main writers on the site; mostly dealing with environmental news and ways to live green. My goal is to educate others about this great planet, and the ways we can help to protect it.

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