Frigid temperatures may not affect insects this year

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) – Warmer weather is on its way, which is good news after a record-breaking winter for some, but humans are not the only ones who managed to survive. When it comes to insects and pests, the weather ahead of us will determine how bad the populations could be.

“People will often say, ‘We’ve had a really brutal winter, like we have had this year, how is that going to affect the population of insects during the summer and the spring time?'” said Dr. Timothy Gibb, Integrated Pest Management Specialist in Entomology at Purdue University.

Between the sleet, snow and cold temperatures, Indiana certainly hasn’t had it easy this winter. But surprisingly, the consistent cold temperatures won’t have much of an impact on the insect populations for this spring and summer.

“They find places that get them out of the cold. Those that have to stay in the cold have developed ways that they can change their blood, such that it won’t freeze. They’ve developed something very similar to the anti-freeze that we put in our cars,” said Gibb.

In fact, the snow will actually help the insects and pests. Gibb said the snow has acted like an insulated blanket for some, which will help them survive.

“The temperatures below that snow are actually warmer than above. So, if insects are residing in that area, it may actually be warmer for them with a snow blanket than without,” said Gibb.

Gibb said the insect outlook will really be determined by the weather this spring. He said the fluctuating temperatures send the insects in and out of their dormant stage.

“It’s during those times when we have a thaw, freeze, a thaw freeze cycle. Several of those in a row, I think, those make it much more difficult for an insect to survive,” said Gibb.

The outlook for mosquitoes really depends on precipitation. Gibb said springtime rains have more of an effect on mosquito populations than winter’s cold.

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