Early thaw, cold snap drove down mountain pine beetle numbers

The numbers are in on mountain pine beetle larvae mortality over this past winter, and local unpredictable weather contributed greatly to reducing the risk of the insect spreading in the area.

The local area, including the Wilmore Wilderness and Grande Cache, saw a low beetle survival rate because of an early thaw followed by a cold snap.

Mountain pine beetles have a natural anti-freeze that helps them survive during the winter but they shed this protection in the spring when temperatures warm. The early spring thaw tricked the beetles' bodies into thinking it was spring and when the temperatures dropped to the -20 range again they were unprotected.