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What Happens to Pests in Winter?

December 18th, 2017

In the spring and summer, pests seem to be everywhere. Mosquitoes are biting, ants are swarming, and wasps are stinging. By the time fall and winter arrive, you're sick and tired of all the pests, and it can be a welcome relief to see their numbers dwindle.

But where do pests go in the colder months?

If you think that the pests are dead or hibernating—meaning you don't have to worry about them—think again.

Let's talk about what really happens to pests (like insects and rodents) during the winter and why it's important to continue your pest control efforts throughout the season.

How Pests Survive the Winter

It's true that many insects die off in the winter. To continue the species, they leave behind their eggs to hatch in the spring. (Unfortunately, the past few winters have been unseasonably warm; this means that some pests that shouldn't live through an Ohio winter end up doing so.)

Many other adult insects, however, survive the harsh temperatures of winter. There are three main strategies that these pests take to make it until spring: migration, diapause, and overwintering.

Migration

This winter survival tactic involves simply escaping the cold temperatures. Some insects, like birds, fly south for the winter and return to the Northern Hemisphere in the spring.

Insects that migrate include monarch butterflies and dragonflies.

Diapause

This strategy functions much like hibernation does for warm-blooded animals: the insects enter a dormant state and ""awaken" in the spring. However, the way that diapause works is far weirder: the insect stops developing and becomes partially frozen and dehydrated. (The insect is able to prevent itself from being completely frozen because its blood is filled with glycerol, a natural sort of antifreeze.) When spring comes, the insect thaws, re-hydrates, and crawls out of its hiding place.

Some species of mosquitoes, the woolly bear caterpillar, and the emerald ash borer are just a few of the insects that enter diapause in the winter.

Overwintering

This winter survival strategy involves finding a warm place to spend the winter. Pests will enter buildings and burrow under leaves, mulch, and soil to keep warm.

Ants and termites, for example, wait out the winter underground in their colonies. Other pests—like rodents, spiders, ladybugs, stink bugs, moths, and cockroaches—may decide to set up camp in your warm, inviting home.

Don't Forget Pest Control in the Winter

Now that you know the truth about pests and winter, you know why good pest control is year-round.

For the pests that migrate or diapause, it's important to have a plan in place when they get back or awaken. And for the pests that overwinter, it's critical to continue your pest control efforts in the fall and winter.

To make your home less attractive to pests and to keep them outside, we recommend taking the following actions:

  • Seal gaps and cracks with caulk, especially around windows and doors.
  • Inspect the basement, attic, and any crawl spaces for signs of pests.
  • Eliminate moisture sources from the basement.
  • Clean counters and floors regularly.
  • Close and seal both indoor and outdoor garbage cans, and make sure trash doesn't pile up.
  • Seal food in airtight plastic containers.
  • Trim shrubs and trees back so that they don't touch the house.

For more tips and tricks, read our previous blog posts on winter pest prevention, part 1 and part 2. You can also find up-to-date expert advice on each type of pest and how to combat them on our blog and in our pest library.

Concerned you might have some uninvited winter guests? Contact Scherzinger Pest Control, a trusted pest control company in the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky areas, including Dayton, OH, and now Columbus, OH. We've been pioneers, engineering new standards for ways of eliminating and controlling bugs and pests. Contact us by phone at 1-877-748-9888 or through our website, Facebook, or Twitter.

Authored By: Eric Scherzinger

Quality ProNational Pest Management AssociationOPMABetter Business BureauAngies List Super Service Award

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