While today’s cold air may seem bitter, frigid, even mind-numbing, just channel your inner Lorax and think of the trees; without a few streaks of this bitter cold, they risk being destroyed by invasive species that thrive in milder temperatures.
Take the infamous emerald ash borer: since being discovered in the Midwest, the exotic beetle species has viciously destroyed tens of millions of trees. While our best defense against the pest lies in our bitterly cold winters, recent warming trends have left us with more of the little buggers staving off death for longer. As the STrib reports, the emerald ash borer won’t start dying until temperatures reach at least 20 below; a temperature of 30 below would be even more effective.
Among other invasive species left untamed by milder temperatures are buckthorn and Grecian foxglove, which is a rapidly-spreading plant in Washington County that’s considered highly toxic to people and animals. So, despite the difficulty in rejoicing over today’s subzero reading, ecologists are quick to remind us that we’re still nowhere near the “normal” amount of consecutive low temperatures necessary to kill off pest and plant species harming our wildlife.