Public and academic researchers have been cheering the harsh winter on at least one ground: it will beat back a cohort of exotic pests, most conspicuously the emerald ash borer, which has been sending out a vector of ash morbidity from an origination point in Michigan for the past decade.
Back in January, a Fox News affiliate in Minnesota quoted some guidance from a USDA research biologist: at -20 degrees F, roughly half of the borer’s larvae will die; at -30 degrees F, about 90% will. Since temperatures much colder than those have afflicted a large portion of the Great Lakes region for extended periods over the past few months, prospects for gaining some ground on this pest have grown.
However, no one expects the weather, itself, to eradicate the borer—only slow up the spread. The benefit is that now “communities have more time to find those infested trees and get them removed.”