Birkel quoted in Sun Journal report on warming weather, increase in insects

The Sun Journal quoted research and personnel from the University of Maine in an article on Maine’s warming weather and its effect on insects and the diseases they carry. Between 1895 and 2014, Maine warmed 3 degrees, according to “Maine’s Climate Future: 2015 Update,” a report produced by UMaine’s Climate Change Institute (CCI) and Maine Sea Grant. Even in the midst of the warming trend, there were cold years, many attributed to major volcanic eruptions, according to the article. There will likely be such cool periods again, but “overall, the warming’s probably going to continue,” said Sean Birkel, Maine State Climatologist, research scientist at CCI and co-author of the report. Extremely cold temperatures kill both ticks and mosquitoes, but as Maine gets warmer, the bugs — and the diseases they carry — are increasingly at home here, the article states. Griffin Dill, an integrated pest management professional and tick ID program coordinator for the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, said he thinks one-quarter to one-third of Maine’s deer ticks will carry Lyme disease this year, depending on the region. “In some cases it could be as high as 50 percent or more,” he said.