Alberta Clipper, Arctic Vortex, or Arctic Clipper, regardless of what you call them, weather conditions identified as those delivering brutally cold weather are sure to get your attention. While some groan and grumble about the sharply colder weather conditions, there actually a number of benefits with its coming.
You may cringe at the additional BTU’s needed to keep our abodes warm, but the extremely cold conditions provide some special relief, at the very least, to slow down a number of forest pests.
Over the last several decades cold weather conditions have moderated. While milder winters may seem like a plus, our forests have been paying the price. The moderating temperatures occurring over a number of winters has opened the door for a number of invasive insect species to take hold and spread. And many of those pests are causing huge problems across the state.
For a number of years the hemlock trees have been attacked by the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid.
A few cold winters in the recent past have had a positive effect on the insect.
However entomologists note that the mercury needs to drop to minus four or five degrees in order to have a lethal effect on this particular insect.
That’s the good news, especially in light of several severe cold snaps that occurred recently, with several more predicted to come.
On the other hand, when an invasive species takes hold, such as the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid, the temperature cause and effect may only provide a temporary solution.
The Hemlock Woolly Adelgid was first discovered in eastern North America in 1951 near Richmond, VA. In the late 1980’s, this invasive began to rapidly spread in hemlock forests from its point of introduction. It has since spread to 17 eastern states and threatens two species of hemlock--the eastern hemlock, Tsuga Canadensis, and Carolina hemlock, Tsuga caroliniana Engelm.
Another destructive forest pest, the Emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis Fairmaire) is also found in PA. This invasive is a half-inch long metallic green beetle originating from Asia and first identified in North America in 2002. This forest pest was detected in western PA in 2007. Now a decade later this insect can be found in nearly every county of the Commonwealth.
The larval stage of this beetle is harmful, feeding exclusively on ash trees under the bark and killing them within three to five years after infestation.
This past fall the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (Bureau of Forestry) reported that this invasive has spread across the entire Commonwealth.
Since they were first identified in 2002, this particular insect has spread across 20 states.
Again the sustained cold weather will help. However researchers believe for cold temperatures to really take a toll on this insect, the mercury needs to drop to the minus 30 degree mark to really make a big difference. While the thermometer has not given us those kinds of readings, nevertheless we can only hope the recent cold snaps will help.
While any setback for insects may be only temporary, you could say those old fashioned winters some talk about do provide some interesting tradeoffs.
Let’s hope for another cold snap or two to provide a shorter growing season for any number of uninvited forest pests.
THE WINTER REPORT
With the recent snows and cooler temperatures, the winter recreation season has begun! To find out if your favorite PA State Park has favorable conditions for winter activities, check out the State Parks’ Winter Report to monitor snow and ice.
The report is updated weekly (at a minimum) by state parks. Provided are ice thickness and ice activities, when available, at a given park facility.
The report also lists the snow depth and what snow activities are available.
There is an easy-to-use website that allows you to search either by park or by specific winter recreation activity. So check out the Winter Report to learn if your favorite PA State Park has favorable conditions for winter activities. The Winter Report can be found at http://www.dcnr.pa.gov/StateParks/WinterReport/Pages/default.aspx.
GREAT AMERICAN OUTDOOR SHOW
The Great American Outdoor Show is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 3 through Sunday, Feb. 11, at the State Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg.
Packing the 650,000-square-foot exhibit space are nearly 1,100 exhibitors, including shooting sports manufacturers, boat and RV dealers, hunting and fishing retailers, and more than 400 outfitters and boat captains. The Great American Outdoor Show is the world’s largest consumer outdoor show.
This year attendees can enjoy everything including testing their archery skills for prizes in the 3D Bowhunter Challenge, world-class fishing lessons from pro anglers at the 5,000-gallon Hawg Tank, more than 200 hunting and fishing seminars, and meeting their favorite celebrities and outdoor personalities.
Returning this year will be the high-flying, big-splashing Dock Dogs, the NRA Air Gun Range and the Air Soft Experience, the Eddie Eagle Kids Zone, the NRA Foundation Sportsmen’s Banquet, and the NRA Country Concert.
The show kicks off Feb. 3 and runs through Feb. 11.
For more information about the 2018 show, including ticket sales, guest appearances and special events, go to www.greatamericanoutdoorshow.org.
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Charlie Burchfield is an active member and past president of the Pennsylvania Outdoor Writers Association, an active member of the Professional Outdoor Media Association, Outdoor Writers Assoc. of America and the Mason-Dixon Outdoor Writers. Gateway Outdoors e-mail is GWOutdoors@comcast.net