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Tree-killing insects adapting to warmer cities

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A new study shows that scale insects are found in big numbers in populous regions.

www.livescience.com | April 8, 2013

Bizarre-looking bugs known as scale insects may be tiny but they can take down an oak tree. Considered pests, the creatures tend to flock to cities where they weaken, and in some cases, kill trees by sucking out their sap.

A new study shows that scale insects are found in big numbers in populous regions because they have adapted to the heat of urban areas. The pests threaten to become a bigger problem as climate change drives temperatures up, researchers warn.

"We now have a better understanding of why trees in urban areas are infested by so many of these pests," study researcher Steve Frank, an assistant professor of entomology at North Carolina State University, said in a statement. "And if climate change causes temperatures to rise in forests, as we expect, we may see scale insects becoming a much bigger problem for ecosystem health."

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