A recently published Dartmouth-led study on climate change offers new hope for New Jersey forests devastated by the southern pine beetle, but NJ pest control experts warn that it could also presage the arrival of nasty new pests in the Garden State.
Participating in the government’s National Climate Assessment, Dartmouth and University of Idaho researchers reviewing the impact climate change has on forests noticed a strong connection between rising temperatures and the make up of local insect populations. Warmer winter temperatures prevented normal insect die-off, allowing substantial growth in native insect populations. But warmer winter temperatures also allowed insects common in warmer southern states to advance northward more rapidly.
One particularly interesting discovery was that many insect populations seem to thrive only within a relatively narrowly defined temperature range. For example, warming temperatures have allowed the southern pine beetle to gain a foothold and spread rapidly through New Jersey forests. However, pine beetle damage in Louisiana is actually decreasing as temperatures rise. Study researchers hypothesize that the Deep South is becoming too hot for the pine beetle, causing it to die out in southern states and migrate northward to cooler states where conditions are more conducive to its survival and reproduction.
NJ Pest control experts have been watching fire ants, Africanized bees and Formosa termites creeping closer over the decades. Climate change could accelerate the northern expansion of insect populations.