They pester us, they bug us, and they bite us. But during wintertime, most people get a short reprieve from insects and household pests, which begs the question: where do they go?
According to the Smithsonian, insects are best able to survive the winter when the temperatures are stable and don’t fluctuate through thaws and freezes. Many insects get their shelter and nourishment in a variety of micro-habitats such as under the soil, inside logs and trees, and plant galls (abnormal growths that occur on leaves, twigs, roots, or flowers).
A few different strategies are employed by insects to survive winter such as hibernation, migration, and overwintering in different life stages (larvae, nymphs, eggs, and pupae). Inactive insects during this time, such as stinkbugs, experience a state in which their growth and activities are suspended temporarily, but their metabolic rate is high enough to keep them alive. This is possible due to cold weather, which slows the development of arthropods (invertebrates that have a segmented body, jointed limbs, and usually a shell), which decreases the size of their populations in the environment.
Arthropods such as cockroaches, spiders, ants, and mosquitoes, cannot produce their own heat, so they depend on the environment’s temperature. Furthermore, mosquitoes cannot function when temperatures drop below 50°F, which means a hard freeze during the winter could lead to a milder mosquito season in spring and summer.
Some of these arthropods avoid freezing during hibernation by producing glycerol, a type of antifreeze, in their blood that protects them from harsh winter conditions. They usually hibernate in small, dark niches that are difficult to find and rarely disturbed.
Probably the most famous example of insect migration during colder months is the Monarch butterfly, which travels to wintering sites in Mexico before returning to the United States as temperatures warm.
Overwintering in different life stages usually depends on the species. A small number of insects can actually lay eggs which survive the winter, such as the Praying Mantis. Many successfully get through winter as immature larvae, nymphs, or pupae, with the protection of heavy cover such as in leaf litter or below ice in ponds and streams. Once spring begins, they emerge as adults.
Unfortunately, as a bid to stay warm, many pests, such as cockroaches and wasps, will move indoors to survive the winter. This makes it especially important to continue your pest control service through colder months to avoid a pest problem.
As always, we’re here to help. Request a quote or call 855-855-4873 and one of our pest control professionals will address your needs.