Where do bugs go in the winter? Aruba, Jamaica – wait a second. These tropical destinations might be where we humans like to go (or dream about going) in the winter, but for bugs, it’s a different story. So, what happens to bugs in the winter? Insects have a variety of methods to survive the chill of the colder months.
That seems a little dramatic, but as you might have been hoping, many insects do indeed die when temperatures drop. This doesn’t mean an entire population is wiped out, though. By the time they die, most of these insects have already completed their true mission of reproduction.
Insects, such as the field cricket, who die in the winter, spend their last days by preparing the next generation for the upcoming spring. They do this by laying eggs in covered areas or storing food for their larvae to survive the winter. So, although the adult bugs won’t survive the winter, their offspring will be ready to go when the temperatures rise.
The offspring of adult bugs who perish in cold weather are protected by overwintering, or simply living through the winter. Many insects are able to wait out the colder weather in their various stages (larvae, nymphs, eggs, or pupae).
Many insects successfully pass the winter in their immature stages thanks to where their parents decided to nest in the fall. The protection of leaf litter or similar shelters protect many insects in the larval stage until temps rise. Some insects overwinter in the pupal stage and simply emerge as adults in the spring.
Like many other types of animals, some insects hibernate in their adult state. Hibernation could be considered a type of overwintering. Insects will go into two types of hibernation to avoid cold.
One type of insect hibernation is called diapause. Many types of mosquitoes overwinter in this way. This is when an insect releases a natural antifreeze called glycerol that replaces the water in their bodies to raise their freezing temperature. Insects in this state go dormant through the winter but remain alive and reemerge in spring.
Many insects, such as stinkbugs and lady bird beetles hibernate in their adult stage in covered areas. These insects find covered areas often at high elevations, such as barn eaves or attics where they enter into a dormant state where they remain until temps rise in the spring.
You might be surprised to find out that migration is one strategy that insects use to survive winter. The Monarch Butterfly is a prime example, but other insects, such as dragonflies also migrate. Some insects engage in a one-way migration to warmer climates where they reproduce, die, and send a new generation northward to begin the cycle again. Some insects engage in a less direct migration where their daily activities continuously move them toward warmer climates. Thanks to their continuous movement, these populations never experience harmfully cold temperatures.
They remain active.
Yep! Some insects continue to thrive through winter simply by changing the areas where they live and work. Some of these insects move far underground. However, many of these types of insects such as termites, cockroaches, or wasps find other warm areas like our homes! As long as these insects have food and shelter, they don’t bat an eye at falling temperatures of winter.
That means that just because it’s winter doesn’t mean you won’t see a few bugs (or even have a full-on infestation behind the drywall – eek!) inside your home. For help finding and eliminating insect populations at any time of year, give us a call!