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Given the many problems that insect pests have been causing for the past few years it is no wonder that many scientists and researchers are pessimistic about possible improvements concerning future pest-related issues. There is good reason to think that the past insect pest issues will only be worse during this year’s warm season, as insect pests have been progressively more problematic with each consecutive year. The undesirable effect that climate change is having on insect pest populations is also a concern. Global temperatures are only getting higher each year. Insect pests always cause problems during warmer seasons if the previous winter was relatively mild. Even if winter temperatures do drop significantly, insect pests may still come out in droves once spring comes around. In order for the high insect pest populations to decrease, the winter cold must last for an extended period of time. Despite last winter’s occasional cold days, insect pests still managed to overwinter. However, it is beginning to look as though the spring and summer of 2018 may be different as there are no signs suggesting that the current freezing cold climate will change anytime soon. The current cold climate that swept the United States a few weeks ago is finally resulting in mass deaths of one of America’s most damaging insect pests.

Biologists and other scientists are happy to report that the dreaded hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA) is facing a crisis as a result of the severe cold. These invasive insects damage hemlock trees. Their presence is most abundant in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. According to experts temperatures that fall below five degrees fahrenheit are sufficient to kill large portions of the HWA population. The HWA is well adapted to tolerate cold temperatures due to its “woolly” outer body, therefore prolonged periods of below zero degree whether is the best defense against these damaging creatures. Hemlock trees are vitally important to the Smoky Mountain ecosystem, as these trees can regulate temperatures throughout forests. Without hemlock trees, the entire Smoky Mountain ecosystem could face collapse.

Have you ever been lectured on the devastation that HWAs cause to hemlock trees during a visit to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park?


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