Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Weather Down-Under

New Zealanders bugged by rise in insects

February was a bumper month for insects, pest controllers say, as the country experienced one of the hottest months on record.

2 March, 2016

Several places had the hottest Februarys since records began, MetService said.

no caption Bugged by bugs: February was a boom time for insects     Photo: 123 RF

With insects thriving in the hot conditions, the pest control industry has been busy.

Target Pest Wellington had been answering up to 50 enquiries and handling 20 jobs a day, and manager Tony Behrent said things were busy industry-wide.

"We're in contact with other guys in the industry, and we know everyone's pretty busy. Quite often we can't get to jobs and we're advising people to ring other companies and see if they can help because quite simply people need to get things done quickly and if we can't provide it, try to get it sorted."

It had been a pretty standard year but February had spiked noticeably, he said.

"Fleas have been very bad this year, we've had a lot of flea enquiries. The Hutt Valley, Kapiti Coast, Palmerston, Manawatu, we've definitely had an increase in the number of Gisborne cockroaches enquiries. Flies haven't been particularly bad and I think a lot of that is due to the dry conditions, flies tend to like a bit of humidity."

Conditions overall had been ideal for insects.

"It's been dry but not exceptionally dry. It has been warm, warm at night, not a huge amount of wind, it's just been very, very good temperatures for insects to breed in."

With temperatures cooling down in the Wellington area, Mr Behrent said he was anticipating a spike in flies over the next week or so.

Pest control products flying out the door

Key Industries provides a major share of the pest control industry's products.

Managing director Frank Visser said the product going out the door in February was up about 40 percent compared with previous years, with fly, wasp and ant control products most in demand

"February in particular has been huge month, I think the weather patterns around the world and particularly in the Pacific have come down and created the ideal conditions for the breeding of insect pests, so February has gone absolutely gangbusters."

MetService said last month Wellington, Nelson and Dunedin all had their hottest Februarys since records began.

Auckland, including overnight and daytime temperatures, averaged 21.9°C over February, the highest since records began in 1962.

Wellington had the second warmest month on record, averaging 19.3°C
Entomologist Ruud Kleinpaste agreed that, while he had not noticed a population increase at his home in Christchurch, hot temperatures meant insects moved, fed and reproduced more quickly.

"Bugs do like the temperature, they like the heat, but they also really like relative humidity. If you dry out as an insect and you lose water through your exoskeleton, you're in deep trouble. So the odd shower and relative humidity - bingo. Increase in numbers, increase in life cycles and the way they go through it, and fabulous opportunities to breed."

People should not necessarily worry if they noticed more insects about, Mr Kleinpaste said.

"I think it's time for us to be a little bit more tolerant for insects around the home because I believe 99.9 percent are doing a fabulous job that we can actually learn something from. Insects do not know the concept of waste, everything is a resource and recycling is their middle name."

'Autumn may not start until April' as warm summer maintains grip on Australia

1 March, 2016

Much of Australia is set to bask in unusually warm and dry weather for the start of autumn, with little sign of a seasonal cooling off.

The sixth-warmest summer on record for the country by mean temperatures masked some regions of exceptional heat.

Tasmania, for instance, had its hottest summer by almost half a degree, while Victoria notched its third warmest, the Bureau of Meteorology said in its seasonal report.

Summer's not done for large parts of Australia.
Summer's not done for large parts of Australia. Photo: Leigh Henningham

Sydney was a standout capital, with Tuesday marking its 26th consecutive day of at least 26 degrees. That's already a week longer than its previous record for extended warmth with another week of similarly mild weather to come, including potentially six days above 30.

"Summer's not keen to give up in its grip on Australia just yet," Andrew Watkins, head of climate prediction services at the bureau, said. "Autumn may not start until April."

Hot and dry month

The lead-up to autumn has been particularly warm, especially across northern Australia where a short monsoon season left many regions relatively dry.

The north has had only one tropical cyclone make landfall, with the second latest start to the cyclone season in 50 years, the bureau said.

Summer's hottest temperature was 47.8 degrees, recorded at a couple of Pilbara sites - Mardie and Emu Creek - in mid-February.

While there were several large heatwaves through the summer, many places have instead recorded long stints of above-average conditions.

Agata Imielska, head of climate at the bureau's Sydney office, noted the city's "lack of cool conditions, with just one day [in February] dropping below the average for the month".

Sydney Airport averaged 9.6 hours of sunshine a day in February, beating the previous record by more than half an hours. The average for the month is 7.1 hours.

"If you look at the outlook, there are strong odds for day and night temperatures in March to be above average...across the board," Ms Imielska said.

NSW was among the regions posting a relatively dry month, with state-wide rainfall less than one-third the average - the driest February since 1978:

March is typically a transitional month, and the odds swing back to more normal rainfall and cooler conditions from April, Ms Imielska said.

Fire season not yet over

Blair Trewin, a senior climatologist at the bureau, said sea-surface temperatures off south-eastern Australia were relatively warm, limiting their cooling influence.

The ongoing dry and warm outlook means that the fire season for many regions "is definitely not over yet," Dr Trewin said.

South Australia and Victoria had record hot starts to summer but temperatures eased back to more normal conditions for the second half of the season.

The lack of days with strong north-westerly winds spared the region from more severe fire weather, with only a couple of days in February with total fire bans for Victoria, Dr Trewin said.

"March is looking quite warm, with significantly above-normal temperatures for the next week," he said.

Towns like Wagga Wagga and Albury-Wodonga are expecting a string of temperatures in the high 30s from Thursday, potentially challenging March records.

"You can still get prolonged heat in March," Dr Trewin said, noting that Adelaide had set its record of number of days above 35 degrees and Melbourne for days above 30 degrees in the past decade.

**** CLIMATE TALK ****

Image/Map: This shows the sub surface sea surface temps anomalies with the red which represents El Nino gradually reducing in size one of the indicators that this El Nino is on its last legs. The Blue represents cooler than normal ssts in the sub surface which may be the early signs of a possible La Nina developing later this year. Image is provided by the BOM.





Via Facebook

Check out the sub surface water underneath the equatorial Pacific last four months... Watch how the red (warmer than normal ssts) starts to reduce in size & watch the blue patch start to grow in size and it extends further east (to the right of the pic) which may be the pre curser to a La Nina later this year.

This El Nino is now reaching its final stages and should die a slow and suffering death over the next month or two.

Rainfall will start to pick up across the country (mostly southern inland regions) but may not be until April before we start seeing widespread wetter weather kick in. Warmer than normal weather will continue across most of the country especially in March with daytime temps closer to the norm through central and southern oz due to extra cloud cover, nights however will remain mild.

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