Boulder residents are wondering if something good could come from this bitterly cold weather, namely a decrease in the pine beetles attacking lodgepole and ponderosa pine trees.Unfortunately, the answer is no. Despite highs of 12, 3 and 10 degrees for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively, the beetles will return this summer.
“It’s very unlikely that these temperatures will be cold enough to significantly affect the pine beetles,” said Tom Veblen, professor of geography at the University of Colorado at Boulder.
Data collected by D.A. Leatherman, I. Aguayo, and T.M. Mehall in their report, “Mountain Pine Beetle,” determined that temperatures of at least 30 degrees below zero (Fahrenheit) must last for five days at the least in order for freezing temperatures to make an impact on the pine beetle population.
Veblen explains that the cold’s duration is necessary because the beetles are in an extreme state of dormancy during the winter, offering them great protection. Also, the recorded temperatures are vastly different from what the beetles experience.
“The temperature at the weather station is likely to be quite a bit colder (than where the beetle is,) beneath the snow and beneath the bark,” he said.
To the dismay of many, the beetles will be back.
For more information about the recent cold spell, see “Temperatures in Boulder climb back towards normal.”