Pine beetle invasion

East Coast pine beetles thriving due to global warming

The East Coast’s southern pine beetle is taking a page from the book of the West Coast’s mountain pine beetle in its voracious attacks on pine forests, helped along by global warming.

Loggers in New Jersey have been busy of late felling pine trees in the famous Pinelands—or Pine Barrens—area of the state in an effort to control a spreading infestation of southern pine beetles that have already killed tens of thousands of acres of trees, according to The New York Times. In the past, the small bugs were kept in check by freezing winters that killed them off, but winters are no longer cold enough to do so; temperatures of approximately 8 degrees below zero are needed to kill most beetles, a low not experienced in the area since 1996.

Normally, trees can fight off small numbers of pine beetles by pushing the burrowing bugs out with discharges of sap, but large infestations of the insects can overwhelm even very healthy trees.

“It’s a tremendously serious issue,” said New Jersey state Sen. Bob Smith.