This Winter’s wild weather has been somewhat pesky to say the least, but there is an upside to this season’s weather: The extreme cold could play a part in eliminating some six-legged pests. The southern pine beetle is an invasive insect capable of leveling pine forests. "There aren’t any natural enemies. It’s been very mild winters for the past dozen years or so and there hasn’t been anything to hold them back," said Richard VanVranken, department head at the Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Atlantic County. The warm-weather insect crossed the Delaware Bay into New Jersey around 2001 and has infested pinelands all the way up to the Mullica River. "Whether or not it’s going to hop that and get into the heart of the Pinelands is a real worry for the natural ecosystem," said Van Vranken, adding that this winter of roller-coaster temperatures could take a toll on the insect’s population.
/ / / Wild winter could freeze pine beetle population growth