6 Invasive Pests Threatened by Cold Weather

Gypsy moth


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The sub-freezing temperatures breaking records across the country have one group of observers cheering: biologists, many of whom hope that a polar vortex or two will help slow the march of invasive species. The gypsy moth (Lymantria dispar) feeds on the leaves of North American hardwood trees and is responsible for destroying many hardwood forests. Low temperatures, however, are lethal to the moths' larvae.

Emerald ash borer

Emerald ash borer

(Image credit: USDA)

The emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis) has several defenses against cold weather, but even it will succumb to temperatures of minus-30 degrees Fahrenheit (-34 C).

Hemlock wooly adelgid


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Evergreen forests in the eastern United States (Blue Ridge Parkway, shown) have been decimated by the hemlock wooly adelgid (Adelges tsugae), but the species has few defenses against temperatures below 4 degrees Fahrenheit (minus-20 C).

Brown marmorated stinkbug

Brown marmorated stink bugs feed on "about anything that makes a seed or a fruit," said Ames Herbert, a Virginia Tech University entomologist.

(Image credit: Image via David R. Lance, USDA | Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported)

Populations of the brown marmorated stinkbug (Halyomorpha halys) are expected to fall, since the invasive pest has few natural deffenses against cold weather.


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Biologists and health experts expect to see fewer cases of Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses this year, following a long, cold winter with several days of below-freezing weather.

Southern pine beetle


(Image credit: Univ. of Florida)

Recent mild winters have extended the range of the Southern Pine Beetle (Dendroctonus frontalis), but the record-breaking cold during the winter of 2013-2014 may stem its march.

Marc Lallanilla
Live Science Contributor
Marc Lallanilla has been a science writer and health editor at About.com and a producer with ABCNews.com. His freelance writing has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and TheWeek.com. Marc has a Master's degree in environmental planning from the University of California, Berkeley, and an undergraduate degree from the University of Texas at Austin.