February 01, 2007

Beetles surviving the cold

I drove home this evening in a white and grey landscape on Colorado 96. For part of the trip, there were no cars ahead of me and no cars in the rear-view mirror, but better that than idiots on either side of me, convinced that all-wheel drive makes them invincible.

But I digress. The real topic of this post is an article in today's Denver Post: Killer Beetles Juiced Up to Beat the Cold.

Researchers say for a significant beetle die-off, low temperatures must hit 35 below to 40 degrees below zero for several consecutive days.

And while it has been cold - and is going to get frigid again as an Arctic front is forecast to bring temperatures as low as 30 below to the mountains this weekend - it just isn't cold enough to cause a massive beetle die-off.

This summer M. and I watched a big ponderosa pine's needles turn yellow near our house. Others have died nearby. Only a miraculous wind shift kept the July 2005 Mason Gulch Fire from moving into one stand of dead trees.

We hope that the thinning we have done will help slow the beetles' progress, but they are definitely here.

There is more than one type of beetle at work--the article does not really differentiate.

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