Press-Republican

FYI...

March 7, 2014

Polar vortex may prove to be a powerful pesticide

(Continued)

This winter's polar shock might be that insect's Waterloo. University of Georgia entomologist Wayne Gardner said kudzu bugs are slowed by just a layer of frost. Maryland's temperatures dipped to 5 degrees.

The corn earworm that devastates that crop prefers tropical climates, and typically heads south when temperatures cool. The vortex that hit 49 states with extreme cold and snow offered few safe havens. And gypsy moths were found frozen and flat on their backs near trees they infect.

But the cruel winter apparently had little effect on ticks. In New Hampshire, they continue to weaken adult moose and kill calves. Tick populations are booming because cold weather now arrives in mid-October, too late to kill them in the brush where they wait to hitch a ride on moose until May.

"We've had a higher tick load on moose this fall than we've ever seen, except for one year previously," Kristine Rines, a wildlife biologist and moose project leader for New Hampshire's Fish and Game Department.

To disrupt the tick reproduction cycle, winter would have to arrive "at its regularly scheduled time" in New Hampshire, around late September, said Rines. "We've already seen some . . . calves dying."

 

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