Written by Paul Day

DENVER (CBS4) – It’s a question many viewers are asking CBS4. Is the recent cold snap going to kill the devastating pine beetle?

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Probably not.

Even though overnight temperatures in the high country plunged to 46 below zero (at Long Draw Reservoir in Northern Colorado), it’s not the long-hoped for knockout punch, according to one expert.

“They’re actually living right below the insulating layer of bark,” explained Bob Cain, a forest entomologist with the U.S. Forest Service.

Cain says the extreme cold would have to penetrate to the inner bark and that doesn’t happen quickly.

“It could take a week or more,” he added.

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(Watch Paul Day’s report in the video below.)

Beetles in January have another defense. They’re producing glycol. Cain says their bodies are filled with what essentially is antifreeze, making them that much more resistant to deep freezes.

“This is when they’re the most cold … so it takes the extreme temperatures that are out of our norm to kill them this time of year,” he said.

If the current cold snap were to reoccur in April or November it might have a lethal effect because the bug doesn’t have the protective antifreeze.

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Still, records kept by the Forest Service prove beetles can be killed by the cold. It happened back in the 1950s in western Colorado when a spruce beetle infestation collapsed because temperatures fell below 50 below zero.