Image credit: Elective Decisions
Jeff has already explored a whole variety of diseased and pest ridden trees this week, but the pine bark beetle's march has to be one of the biggest threats to forests in North America. Unsurprisingly, researchers are working hard to find ways to combat this debilitating pest. But some of their methods are less than conventional. Could it be that playing recordings of Rush Limbaugh backwards might help deter this unwanted visitor?Sadly, the answer is no. But according to AZCentral.com, researchers have been looking at using sound to disorientate the pine bark beetles and disrupt their natural predatory and mating patterns. The team tried everything from Queen and Guns N' Roses to Rush Limbaugh backward. (Perhaps betraying their poltical leanings, the researchers admitted that Limbaugh's voice was the most annoying noise that they could think of.) They finally resorted to playing digitally altered recordings of the beetles' own calls—the sounds they make to attract or repel other beetles—and the results were immediate.
Whether or not that's actually how it happened (I detect the whiff of a PR departments' spin on this one—though the fact I am writing about it means it worked), the end result of fleeing beetles, in fighting, and most importantly, a halt in chewing at the tree could prove to be priceless. The beetles have already destroyed nearly 80 million ponderosa, piñon and lodgepole pines in Arizona and New Mexico alone in the past decade. So stopping them is crucial to everybody's well-being.
Whether it's the voice of Rush Limbaugh, Al Gore or beetles' own mating calls seems pretty academic in the grand scheme of things.