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Cold won't kill off emerald ash borer

By Mary Beth Breckenridge Published: January 28, 2014

Don’t count on this cold snap to do away with the dreaded emerald ash borer.

Like many people, I was buoyed by news of a research study that showed extreme cold would kill the ash borer larvae, which are destroying ash trees in our region. Researchers Robert C. Venette of the U.S. Forest Service and Mark Abrahamson of the Minnesota Department of Agriculture found that ash borer larvae died when the temperature reached what’s called their supercooling point, which on average was 13 below Fahrenheit.

There’s only one catch: The study was done in a laboratory. Ash borers live in tunnels they carve in the tissue of trees.

Even on the most frigid days, the temperature inside those trees won’t get cold enough the kill the bugs, according to Dave Shetlar, an entomologist – or Bug Doc, as he calls himself – at Ohio State University.

“In short,” he told me in an email, “we will have plenty of EABs next summer, even where it gets to –20F or below.”

Darn. 

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