Insects During the Winter

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Mites, grasshoppers, squash vine borers, squirrels, rabbits, ground squirrels, and cucumber beetles – and the other things that are our nemesis all summer survive winter by migration, invasion, activation, or hibernation.

Whether they (a) migrate, (b) invade our homes, garages and sheds, (c) hibernate, or (d) are active, winter is a period of dormancy for most insects. Insects seek protected places where they are not exposed to predators or repeated freezing and thawing. They survive in the least vulnerable life stage. Insects and mites will overwinter as:

  • ADULTS: This includes boxelder bugs, lady bugs, cluster flies, most of the beetles, some aphids, most leafhoppers, and leaf beetles that hibernate in our eaves, homes, attics, barns, and sheds. Others invade hollow logs and other natural cavities.
  • LARVAE: Many insects successfully pass the winter as immature larvae. Some stages of larvae go deeper underground below the frost to survive for the winter, while protect themselves with a heavy cover of leaf litter or similar shelter. This includes the woolly bear caterpillar. Others replace the water in their bodies with glycol, a type of antifreeze, and find refuge away from wind and cold. Still others are the blackflies, and mosquitoes who are aquatic in the larval stage and spend their winter under the ice of ponds, lakes and streams going about their normal business but in a more relaxed, cold-induced slow pace.
  • NYMPHS: Not many insects are active in the winter, but the nymphs of dragonflies, mayflies, and stoneflies live in waters of ponds and streams, often beneath ice. They feed actively and grow all winter to emerge as adults in early spring.”
  • EGGS: Fewer numbers of insects lay eggs which survive the winter. The most prominent of these insects are grasshoppers, praying mantids, bag worms, tent caterpillars, the destructive corn rootworms, Gypsy moth, and most aphids that overwinter on trees and shrubs.
  • PUPAE: Some insects overwinter in the pupal stage (cocoon), then emerge as adults in the spring. Moths in the Silkworm Family may be found attached to food plant branches as pupae in the winterThe cecropia moth, black swallowtail butterfly and tomato hornworm are also examples.

For some insects, if their overwintering sites get too, they may have higher mortality, but won’t be eradicated by the cold. In general, insects are able to survive cold temperatures easiest when temperatures are stable, not fluctuating through alternate thaws and freezes.

How can you prevent winter pests:

  • Cleaning up all plant debris and removing it from the garden is important in reducing favorable overwintering sites.
  • Piling old vines, plants and trimmings in or near the garden and planning on getting rid of it in the spring simply provides insects with a place to survive the winter.
  • Removing garbage cans full or empty.
  • Piles of tomato cages and stakes, hoses, and anything that can provide protection through the winter needs to be stored away from the garden.
  • Pest proof around your home so insects don’t spend the winter with you.

Rodents are prolific breeders and infest approximately 21 million homes in the United States, each year (National Pest Management Association). If your Clifton Park home requires rodent pest control, it’s best to let an professional exterminator handle the infestation. Thomas Pest Services is your Clifton Park rodent control experts offering multiple types of services to effectively control rodent infestations, and prevent their return. Protect your home, family and heath by contacting us for a no charge consultation today!

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