Climate change is already impacting life on Planet Earth. Climatologists warn of rising seas as polar ice caps melt and shrinking water supplies as glaciers disappear. Severe weather experts at The Weather Channel blame climate change for the record snowfalls, floods and droughts experienced this year. Meteorologists warn of more killer tornadoes and catastrophic hurricanes as the climate heats up. News programs focus on the plight of the polar bear and the devastation wrought by violent storms. What is seldom mentioned is the alarming impact climate change is having on the world’s insect populations.
The majority of insects thrive in hot, humid climates. New Jersey insects are more active and multiply more quickly during hot, sticky summer months. The cold, dry air of winter acts as a brake on insect populations. The question entomologists and NJ pest control experts are grappling with is, “What happens to insect populations when New Jersey’s weather stays summer-like year-round?”
The answer has the potential to change our lives. As warming temperatures progress northward, insects now unknown in New Jersey will follow. Entomologists say the migration has already begun:
- Deer ticks are increasing their range. By mid-century, the World Wildlife Fund predicts that global warming will allow deer ticks and the Lyme disease they transmit to spread over 68% of North America.
- More destructive tropical termite species are arriving in the U.S. In the past 35 years, the number of termite species in Florida has nearly doubled from 13 to 25.
- Dengue fever and other potentially-deadly mosquito-borne tropical diseases such as malaria and yellow fever are expected to threaten 60% of the world’s population as global warming increases, the World Wildlife Fund warns.
- Fire ants, now found as far north as Virginia, could arrive in New Jersey by the end of the decade.