Pine Beetles Weather Cold Snap

Infestation Expected To Be Unaffected

It hasn't been cold enough long enough to make a dent in the pine beetle epidemic, according to an expert on the subject.

Sky Stephens, an entomologist with the Colorado State Forest Service, said while the mercury dipped, it didn't get frigid enough. Stephens said studies show that pine beetles are only affected when the temperature plummets to minus 30 Fahrenheit for 72 consecutive hours.

The mountain pine beetle has destroyed 4 million acres of forest in Colorado and Wyoming. Data from the last aerial survey conducted by the U.S. Forest Service was released last month and showed that the epidemic destroyed 400,000 acres last year.

Stephens said pine beetles form their own type of antifreeze. She said that the bugs are most vulnerable in the fall or later in the spring, when the bugs haven't produced enough chemicals to insulate themselves or when it has been depleted.

Stephens added that, even if thousands of the beetles succumbed to the cold, the epidemic is such a large-scale event that it wouldn't make a difference.