Polar Vortex takes a bite out of pests and allergies - KMSP-TV

Polar Vortex takes a bite out of pests and allergies

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The recent onslaught of record cold air across the Upper Midwest had a lot of us running for cover. Worst case scenario for most of us is an interruption in our normal routine. However, for the bug population, the record cold snap could mean lights out for some of our most destructive and annoying critters.

Let's start on the bright sides. Minnesota and Wisconsin have been doing battle with the Emerald Ash Borer for a good five years now.


These insects bore holes into trees to lay their eggs. These holes interrupt the nutrition flow in the tress, causing a great deal of stress and damage to the trees. Although the eggs have already been laid, the larvae can only survive for seconds at extreme cold. In fact, our recent cold snap most likely killed off as much as 99% of the larvae in some parts of the state, putting a serious dent in the adult population for later this year. Below is a chart of the extreme cold effects on the larvae of the emerald Ash Borer.

• 34% of the larvae die when the temperature hits 10 below zero.

• 79% of the larvae die at 20 below zero.

• 98% perish when the temp is 30 below zero.

It's not just the Emerald Ash Borer that will see their wings clipped by the recent cold. We can expect a swat to the Gypsy Moth population as well, which can bite the dust in temps as low as -17°.

If you're thinking those pesky mosquitos will be limited this summer, think again. Unfortunately, mosquito's eggs can freeze and then thaw and go onto hatch. Yes, some of the eggs are destroyed in extreme cold, like what we just experienced. However, there is a catch 22, as the extreme cold can also take a toll on mosquito predators, such as birds, dragonflies and frogs, meaning less mouths looking for a mosquito snack this summer.


It's not just animals and insects suffering from the cold, but allergens as well. The extreme cold, combined with the very dry air usually associated with the frigid temperatures, will mean last call for irritants such as dust mites.


However, unless your pillow and blankets are stored outside, this cold will do very little to ease the sniffles come spring..

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