If you are expecting frigid temperatures to greatly reduce the number of insects this spring and summer, forget it.
An entomologist with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System says the bugs will beat the cold.
In a recent story on the extension website, www.aces.edu/, Xing Ping Hu said insects are not usually susceptible to cold temperatures.
“Some crops, fruit trees and even livestock animals may fall prey to cold weather, but insects can survive even record cold,” Hu said.
In the report, Hu said, “Insects have been around for ages and have survived a wide range of weather conditions. They have developed strategies for surviving even in the coldest temperatures by entering diapause — ceasing to feed, grow or reproduce — by hibernating in protected sites, by burrowing deep down into protective sites — such as leaf litter or the ground — or by sneaking into human-built structures.”
Hu said some insects also find shelter in hollow logs. Over time, some species will develop a higher tolerance, and in some cases—a resistance–to colder weather.
He said in the report that mosquitoes, fire ants, termites, cockroaches, wasps, bedbugs, flies, fleas, and various ant species are all resilient.
“Most insects have a breaking point, but cold weather typically is not one of them,” Hu said.
The report says termites avoid freezes by burrowing deep into the ground, underneath fallen logs and rocks. Their activity slows during winter but rarely completely ceases.
Cockroaches living inside homes or other structures have no problem at all with the winter. Roaches living outside survive freezing temperatures by hiding in safe and warm places such as organic litters, inside fallen-logs, or composters with basic necessities: food, warmth and a hiding place.
“Bees stay inside their hive and keep themselves warm by fluttering their wings,” Hu said in the report.
The report says ants live in groups called colonies. They fend off freezing cold by clustering together, sealing the entrances to their nests and entering a dormant stage.