Whenever the weather turns chilly, many pests seem to vanish, only to reappear in full force when spring returns. The question is, what actually happens to bugs during the winter? Do they die off due to cold temperatures? Do they hibernate like some other creatures?
Find out below!
WHAT HAPPENS TO BUGS DURING COLD WEATHER?
All bugs have a certain level of “cold tolerance.” Rather than dying off during the winter, many bugs simply become inactive or dormant, only to emerge once temperatures rise. To survive in this dormant state, pests need to find a warm place to spend the winter, like deep underground or inside a human home.
The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) reports that cold temperatures kill only about 20 percent of the tick population each winter. Their activity throughout the season can rise and fall due to warm spells.
A temperature range of -2°F and 14°F kills ticks in a controlled lab setting. However, out in the “real world,” many ticks can find shelter in soil and under leaf piles, which can keep them alive in freezing conditions. Sucking blood from a host will also keep a tick active in cold weather.
Fleas tend to thrive the most in environments that are about 75°F. While freezing temperatures outdoors can kill off many fleas, those that have made it inside your home can continue to breed year-round. You’ll typically find them overwintering in places like carpeting, bedding, and pet beds.
Flea eggs have a remarkable cold tolerance. Even at 51.8°F, the fleas can continue developing in their cocoons.
For many homeowners, brown marmorated stink bugs are a bigger problem during winter than any other time of year. This is because stink bugs need a warm, safe place to hang out until spring. When temperatures drop, these insects enter a state similar to hibernation called “diapause.” In this state, the insect pauses its growth and development until its environment becomes more favorable.
Outdoors, stink bugs will overwinter in locations like dead trees, leaf piles, stacks of firewood, mulch, or leaf litter. Indoors, stink bugs will hide in generally undisturbed areas of a home, like the basement, attic, or even behind baseboards and molding. During warm spells, it’s not unusual for large numbers of stink bugs to emerge all at once.
What do mosquitoes and bears have in common? They hibernate! However, unlike bears, mosquitoes are cold-blooded, which means that they can’t maintain their body temperature if the surrounding temperature drops. At around 60°F, they’ll become lethargic, and they’ll cease functioning at 50°F.
To survive the winter, some mosquitoes will hibernate in hollow logs, animal dens, or even garages and basements. Others survive winter as embryos inside eggs that mosquitoes laid during late summer or early fall. When spring arrives, they’ll be ready to emerge and continue their life cycle.
Cockroaches have an almost legendary ability to survive harsh conditions. However, surviving and thriving are two different situations. Like mosquitoes, cockroaches thrive in warm, humid environments. However, once the temperature falls below 45°F, roaches can no longer reproduce or develop.
That being said, cockroaches are extremely hardy, and if their bodies are given time to adapt to cold temperatures, they can survive. These insects are much more likely to die from sudden temperature changes, such as a cold snap. They’ll seek shelter from extreme weather in dying trees, woodpiles, and—of course—human homes.
DO I NEED PEST CONTROL DURING WINTER?
The most effective pest control needs a proactive approach—not just a reactive one. That’s why pest-free homes typically get pest control services each season. Not only do the treatments help eliminate existing problems, but they also prevent pest problems that could crop up.
Even if you’re not seeing pests during winter, they’re there, waiting for warmer weather to stretch their legs and spread their wings. At Greenix Pest Control, our technicians take care during winter to look for any hidden bugs, nests, and egg sacks so that we can help our customers avoid those typical springtime infestations.