Will the cold weather we had this winter mean fewer pests this year?
This past winter has been brutal. It was wretchedly cold. There was way too much snow and the bitter temperatures seemed like they would never end. The one redeeming outcome of this insane weather has been the thought that the bugs of spring and summer would be minimized due to the cold. But is that the case?
Some pests are affected by colder than normal temperatures. Yet others seem to weather the extreme cold and never skip a beat. Below are three very common pests – Mosquitoes, Fleas and Ants with explanations as to how they may be affected by the weather.
Mosquitoes are the most annoying of blood suckers. Yet they are often thought of as a tropical menace since many diseases spread by mosquitoes thrive in warm climates. (Malaria and Dengue Fever kill thousands of people each year.) So in many people’s minds, mosquitoes equate to warm weather and the assumption is that a cold winter will curb their population. Now that we have West Nile Virus spreading everywhere, there is more to fear from mosquitoes than merely annoying bites. So will the cold this winter minimize mosquitoes?
No. Mosquitoes scoff at cold weather. Some of the world’s worst mosquito breeding grounds are in Alaska! Mosquito populations are directly impacted by availability of water – not by winter temperatures. While you may not have to worry about Malaria, you will be just as threatened by irritating, itchy bites even after this record breaking winter.
You must have a minimum of 10 days of sustained below freezing temperatures in order to kill fleas. And that is a tall order even in very cold climates. You might feel like this winter provided months of sustained cold weather but don’t count on it. Fleas are experts at survival and have developed cold weather coping skills. They lay their eggs in ‘warm’ spots like on wild animals, tucked in animal bedding, even next to walls housing furnaces and fireplaces. Plus, eggs can always overwinter inside your home in thousands of places.
Sustained temperatures below freezing for 5 days cause significant death in ants. However, most ants burrow deep into the soil where it is warmer and they are protected. If the temperature drops quickly and they cannot dig deep enough, many will be killed. However, if the following spring has decent wet weather, populations will rebound to previous levels. In other words, cold weather can affect ants, but only for a very short time.
The conclusion is that we had a terribly difficult winter which will provide little if any relief from pests this spring and summer. Better start planning your pest control now!