So Where Do Bugs Go in the Winter?
Most insects don’t migrate, unlike the monarch butterflies that escape to the warmer climates of the south. Instead, the bugs who do stay in colder climates over winter months stay hidden in the landscape in various stages of their life cycles. Here’s how and where some of your favorite backyard guests withstand the chilly weather.
Do Insects Hibernate?
In many insect species, the bug adapts to the cold by dying off, and it’s the larval stage of the insect that makes it through winter. However, there are some insects that do over-winter as adults and they enter a hibernation-like state.
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These adult insects use various mechanisms to make it through the brutally cold months. They slow their metabolisms way down in a process called diapause. Certain chemicals in their bodies act as antifreeze. And they rid their bodies of nearly all water to avoid turning into an ice crystal.
What happens to all the bugs in winter?
Some butterflies hibernate through winter as adults and other types of butterflies others hunker down, tucked away behind loose bark or in fallen leaves. But most spend the season in other stages of their life cycle.
Common backyard bugs persevere in similar ways. Many moth and beetle eggs, for example, are hidden in rough tree bark or under leaf litter. Praying mantis eggs stay safe and cozy in insulated egg sacs. Most dragonflies in their wingless nymph stage survive the cold underwater. One of the most common strategies is to bury themselves underground. And if your house has ever been invaded by swarms of lady beetles or stinkbugs in fall, then you know their overwintering strategy all too well. Here’s how to manage fall’s most annoying pests.
Do insects die in winter?
The answer is mixed. All insects have some ability to withstand cold weather. The more habitat you supply for butterflies and other insects, the more robust with flying creatures your spring garden will be. It’s as simple as not being too tidy (check out these 15 yard maintenance tasks to do now). Dried plant stalks and seed heads offer hiding spots for insects, so go easy on deadheading. Stacks of firewood, brush piles, leaf litter, and even a wooden insect house make a backyard more desirable to bugs. Before you know it, higher temps wake backyard insects, and your space comes alive again.
When temperatures drop well below 0°F, many bugs die. The colder the temperature is, the fewer bugs survive. According to the Farmers Almanac, the recent succession of warmer-than-average winters over the last few decades, has allowed the populations of some types of creepy crawlies to explode. When winter temperatures never reach a truly deep freeze, bugs make it through to spring unscathed and ready to multiply.