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How Maryland Pests Handled The Polar Vortex

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The polar vortex that plunged temperatures to below-freezing levels in much of the country in January turned out to have an upside for us, and bad news for stink bugs.

"We call this their super-cooling point," said University of Maryland professor, Michael Raupp. "This is the point ice-crystals form in their cells, and guess what? That's lethal to stink bugs so we can expect to see upwards of 90 percent mortality in places where we got down to 6 degrees or lower, and that happened throughout our region."

The stink bugs in the lab at the University of Maryland have been kept nice and warm.

So have the ones that have found ways into Maryland homes over the winter.

Researchers: Polar Vortex May Have Killed 95 Percent Of Stink Bugs

But these non-native invaders from Asia won't be missed on farms and gardens, where they eat just about everything.

Then here's the harlequin bug, another pest that's taken a hit.

"These guys are real wimps," said Raupp. "When it hits about 14 degrees, they hit their super-cooling point. They're going to be going down."

The cold isn't bad news for all bugs.

One of the most destructive is the emerald ash borer, which has been wiping out trees from Maryland to the midwest.

"This baby has killed 100 million ash trees nationwide," said Raupp. "Did the polar vortex kill it here in Maryland? No, it did not. It has to go to minus 23 degrees fahrenheit before we see mortality in that guy."

Raupp expects that ash borers in northern states have been killed but not nearly in the same amounts that stink bugs frozen in Maryland have.

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