Does a Cold Winter Kill Pests
Does a Cold Winter Kill Pests?
With the extremely cold winter that much of the United States is having there seems to be some debate on its effect on pest populations.
Most insect have a natural “anti freeze” that is located in the hemolymph or insect blood. This helps protect insect from below freezing temperatures. Without this antifreeze, the cells that make up the insect shell and internal organs would freeze and burst, effectively killing the insect.
Many insect also hibernate for the winter. This naturally occurs with insect overwintering under tree bark or in leaf litter. Some will bore into the soil to lay eggs for the next generation of insects. Without hibernation, insects will die when the cold temperatures remove their food sources. Hibernation allows insect to survive the winter in a very slow metabolic state while using the very small fat supplies that the insects develop when food sources are plentiful. Sometimes there is insect mortality when there is a very late spring and insects run out of stored body fat.
With invasive pest species like Stink Bugs, it remains to be seen what effects a very cold winter will have on their populations. My guess is that there will be some insect mortality with insect overwintering in nature, but insects that are already overwintering in our homes will survive.
In all of my years in the pest management business I have come to respect Mother Nature. Insects and other animals never cease to amaze us with their ability to adapt and survive. Let’s see what Mother Nature has in store for us this Spring!
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