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Brutal cold works wonders to keep invasive insects away from BWCA, North Shore

January did not mess around in Cook County when it comes to cold weather.

The average daily temperature near Devil Track Lake is below zero as the first month of 2022 winds down, according to a weather tracking database.

In addition to the cold, frigid winds out of the north have been a steady factor in making many ice anglers, snowmobilers, skiers and essentially anybody who steps outside feel the bite of a true winter in the far reaches of northeastern Minnesota.

And while humans navigate the cold by wearing extra layers or burning maple in the woodstove, other living creatures have no such luxuries to help deal with the harshness of winter weather. This includes the invasive and unwanted pest known as the emerald ash borer.

After wreaking havoc across parts of Minnesota during the past decade, Emerald ash borer, a green invasive beetle native to Asia, was first discovered in trees in Duluth several years ago. This is as far north as the invasive insect has been reported in Minnesota, raising concern that it will eventually spread throughout the North Shore.

To date, there have been no confirmed cases of emerald ash border in Cook County, according to Matt Russell, an associate professor and extension specialist at the University of Minnesota’s Department of Forest Resources.

And the cold start to 2022 should help keep it that way. During a recent WTIP interview, Russell explained that at -20 degrees Fahrenheit, some 50 percent of emerald ash borer larva die. At -30 degrees, that number goes up to nearly 95 percent.

WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs spoke with Russell about this topic. Audio below.