Summary of winter survival strategies of pests
When the winter rolls in, bears go into hibernation; birds migrate south and we, as humans, layer up to stay warm through the winter months. But what happens to pests like ants, mosquitoes and termites? Many people believe they die off, but the truth is that these and other bugs have evolved many techniques to make it through the winter. Learn more about how pests survive the harsh winter conditions.
It’s not all that often you see an army of ants marching across the kitchen counter in the dead of winter. However, that doesn’t mean they aren’t nearby. Ants are very successful at overwintering in the great outdoors, including our yards. During the fall months, they indulge in vast amounts of food to put on fat to survive for weeks on end without eating. As the winter chill arrives, their body temperature – and productivity – significantly decreases, so they seal up their colony and hunker down in deep soil or under rocks until spring has sprung. Once the temperature rises, ants will emerge from their overwintering sites, full of energy and ready to crash the next backyard barbecue.
Bed bugs can withstand temperatures from nearly freezing to 122 degrees Fahrenheit, which makes controlling them extremely difficult. However, they often succumb after a few days of exposure to temperatures below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. The bad news is our homes provide the perfect habitat for bed bugs to survive during the winter months.
Cockroaches have been around for millions of years, evolving into some of the most adaptable creatures in the world. But, are they able to survive the cold weather? Generally speaking, most types of cockroaches can survive year-round, as long as they have easy access to a warm, moist environment. The German cockroach, for example, prefers a humid indoor habitat close to food and moisture sources. As such, this species often makes itself quite comfortable in residential kitchens and bathrooms, especially during the winter months. The American cockroach, on the other hand, will live outdoors in warmer climates. Once the temperature dips, this type of cockroach will mass migrate into homes or larger commercial buildings such as restaurants, grocery stores, food processing plants and hospitals.
Encountering mosquitoes – and those itchy, red mosquito bites – is inevitable when spending time outdoors during the summer months. But, you might be surprised to find out that mosquitoes don’t fall away when Old Man Winter moves in. Contrary to popular belief, these biting insects overwinter or hibernate, in protected places like hollow logs. As the weather conditions improve, female mosquitoes awaken and seek out a blood source to feed and begin developing eggs. Watch this video to find out what happens to mosquito larvae, too.
What happens to termites during the winter is highly influenced by the particular species and the climate they live in. In colder climates, subterranean termites will dig deeper into the soil – below the frost line – to stay warm. Other species like drywood termites will seek out dry wood for shelter. After the last freeze, typically in the springtime, when the temperature reaches about 70 degrees Fahrenheit, young male and female termite swarmers emerge from their nests to find a mate and new nest location, which often can be inside our homes. In warmer climates or heated homes, where the temperature is controlled, termites can be active year-round.
Now that you know many common household pests can survive the winter season, it’s essential to take the necessary steps to pest-proof the home. Click here to find out what renowned home improvement expert Bob Vila says you can do to help defend the house against pests this winter.