Pest Management News From PPM - May, 2014

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It’s getting colder and winter is approaching, but it’s not all bad news. At least we’ll be seeing less insects as the temperatures drops. Let’s hear from the National Geographic Society on why insects seem to disappear in the winter months.

Our friendly six-legged critters are not completely gone. Instead, they’re largely catching some shut eye before an active spring and summer.

Like lizards and snakes, insects are cold-blooded. Their body temperatures rise and fall with the mercury in the thermometer. When insects recognize that winter is coming, they get ready by employing different strategies.

Some insects, like the Wanderer Butterfly, simply don’t stick around to see the arrival of winter. Instead, they migrate to warmer climes, only to return in the spring.

Ants and termites survive the cold by moving into and huddling together in the deep reaches of their underground colonies that extend below the frost line. There, they feast on food they stored during the warmer months.

Most insects, however, fall into a sort of deep sleep and wait for warmer weather to arrive. This sleep is technically known as diapause, a period of little or no activity like the hibernation of some mammals.

According to Kenneth Holscher, an entomologist at Iowa State University in the U.S., insects begin to get ready for their winter sleep when they notice the shrinking hours of daylight in autumn. That’s when they start doing things like putting on extra layers of fat.

“They also reduce the amount of water inside them,” he said. “Water freezes at a high temperature compared to other liquids, so they reduce the water and replace it with glycerol, which is similar to the antifreeze we put in our cars.”

Many of the insects that go into diapause are eggs and pupae awaiting the arrival of spring and its bounty of food before hatching into adults, Holscher said.

So don’t be sad that your beach-going weekends may be coming to an end – at least you can go outside without having to use the bug spray for a few months.