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Earth Science

VA Tech Experiment: Polar Vortex May Decimate D.C. Stinkbugs In 2014 112

Posted by timothy
from the literal-not-metaphoric-ones dept.
barlevg writes "Each fall, a team led by Virginia Tech Professor of Entomology Thomas Kuhar gathers brown marmorated stink bugs from around campus and plops them into ventilated and insulated five-gallon buckets designed to simulate the habitats in which the bugs naturally wait out the winter. While previous lab tests have shown the insects capable of surviving chills of -20 C, last month's polar vortex proved too much for the little guys, with only 5% surviving the sustained cold conditions. This suggests that the DC area's population of stink bugs and other overwintering insects should be much lower come spring than in previous years."
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VA Tech Experiment: Polar Vortex May Decimate D.C. Stinkbugs In 2014

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  • Re:Hurray? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 22, 2014 @12:57AM (#46309219)

    They are an invasive species that was accidentally introduced in 1998.

    But I don't know enough about them to say that they haven't filled some gap left by the disappearance of another species, heavily predated another species, or drawn more birds/whatever to the area than will be able to be supported by the environment without stinkbugs.

    This is "good" news due to the whole invasive species thing, though, we'll just have to see if it has any other effects. Though, as an invasive species. I'm not sure that they've been reduced to a low enough level to actually be wiped out; if they're still lacking successful competition, as you would expect since it's been less than 20 years, they will probably bounce right back. (barring further strange weather that eliminates them more completely)

  • by hey! (33014) on Saturday February 22, 2014 @02:19AM (#46309467) Homepage Journal

    True, but global warming doesn't mean we won't have good, hard winters. Sometimes we'll have them in places where such winters were seldom seen previously.

    The reason that "climate change" is a better term than "global warming" is that "global warming" seems to conjure up a spurious picture where everywhere on the Earth is going to get noticeably hotter. In reality we're talking about *global averages* going up a degree or two at most over the next couple of decades. That's not much temperature-wise. A one degree change uniformly applied across the globe wouldn't close many ski resorts, for example, or make it nice to swim in the Gulf of Maine.

    The real issue is that degree of average temperature increase across the globe represents a huge total addition of energy to the atmosphere. That in turn means that what previously would have been anomalous weather will become more common: hotter OR colder than normal; wetter or drier; longer or shorter seasons than previously experienced. These changes will put stress on plants, animals and human communities to adapt. A February cold snap might be a good thing for a New England apple orchard, but it's lousy for a Florida orange grove.

  • Re: Hurray? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 22, 2014 @03:52AM (#46309671)

    Mosquitoes survive winters well. What they don't survive well is cold snaps once they've come out thinking spring has come. We had one here in Sweden a few years ago, and the following summer was pleasantly low in mosquitoes. In comparison, last winter was very cold (-30ÂC for many days), but spring came without a hitch and we were inundated with mosquitoes. The large amount of snow melting helped getting conditions nice and swampy for the little bastards.

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