Forest-eating bug spreading unusually fast, posing global threat
Malnourished trees are a favorite of these bugs, and the extremely hot temperatures of the climate crisis is serving to their aid.
Trees in the forests of Finland are increasingly being killed by the spruce bark beetle, which is increasingly breeding and spreading faster.
These bugs seem to target the Picea abies, one of Finland's most common tree species, causing tremendous damage to forests by eating the bark, thus impeding water and nutrients from reaching branches to make them grow.
A scientist at the Natural Resources Institute Finland, Markus Melin, relayed to AFP, "The species has caused huge damage across Central and Eastern Europe, especially since 2018," as he added that their spreading is more facilitated and a "lot higher now" through the climate crisis.
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"We have to accept it and adapt to it. Things are changing fast up here," Melvin stated, as he informed that this type of insect "is one of the species that benefit most from global warming."
Malnourished trees are a favorite of these bugs, and the way that the climate crisis is benefitting them is that very hot summers mean droughts, and as a result of the environmental crisis, hot temperatures in winter do not aid in holding the trees in the ground when storms hit.
"Extreme warm summers benefit the bark beetle directly. They have less mortality, reproduction is faster," Melin said.
The bad news is that once they raid all the weakened trees, healthy trees become the next target, which Melvin calls "a nasty loop."
The scientist warned that if no action is taken before it's too late by getting rid of the weakened spruce trees, "suddenly there are so many beetles that they can attack healthy trees," exacerbating the speed of the "cycle of destruction."