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How Do Insects Survive the Winter?

The weather outside is frightful, so how do insects survive to bother you again next year? While some of the wildlife around your home high-tail it to warmer regions or enter hibernation to wait out the colder months, bugs seem to vanish when the first frost appears and magically reappear in the spring. Where do bugs spend the winter?

Insects Aren’t That Different

Just like other organisms, insects typically do one of three things during the coldest months of the year—migrate to warmer temperatures, hunker down and “hibernate” or try to survive the winter. Migration is difficult for most insects because lifespans are so short that all bugs can’t make the journey. Monarch butterflies complete a well-known migration from the northeastern United States to southwestern Mexico. However, most butterflies who made the journey die on the way back and the younger butterflies take over to complete the cycle. In an average year, 4 different generations of butterflies are needed to make it there and back.

For bugs that don’t migrate, cold temperatures are the single biggest threat to existence. Since insects do not generate heat and cannot grow fur to keep warm, it takes creativity to survive. Many bugs fatten up and winterize by sleeping under bark, leaves or buried in the soil. Bugs who “hibernate” will then flood the body with glycerol, which serves as a natural antifreeze. Then, the insect will enter diapause, where body development stops, the metabolism is lowered and they can wait out the winter.

Finally, other bugs don’t survive the winter at all. Every year, there is a significant die-off when the weather gets bad. Moths, crickets and praying mantises often don’t make the cut, and eggs and pupae are the only family members that survive the winter.

Maryland Insects

Two Maryland insects are active over the course of the winter, the snow cranefly and springtail snow flea. These bugs are active all winter long and utilize their glycerol supply to stay warm during the winter without needing to enter diapause.

What Does This Mean for Mosquitoes and Ticks?

In Maryland, a mild winter can mean more bugs the next year. However, the opposite (a harsh winter) does not always lead to fewer bugs. Ticks spend the winter burrowed under piles of leaves. This keeps them warm and alive through harsh winters, as snow just adds more insulation to the pile. Some mosquitoes can wait out winter weather, but mosquitoes that migrated to Maryland from warmer climates will often die off.

Keep Your Home Bug-Free All Winter Long

Brody Brothers Pest Control works with hundreds of property owners every year to keep properties safe and free from harmful insects, animals and pests. Brody Brothers Quality Pest Control can treat any problems and maintain your property to minimize risks. Schedule a property inspection with Brody Brothers Quality Pest Control. Contact us online or call (410) 653-2121 (Baltimore region) or (301) 637-0178 (Montgomery County).