Winter is finally here, and that means a bit of a reprieve from bugs; or does it? Northeastern Pennsylvania can get pretty cold, but the insects always seem to come back full force the following spring.

As the temperatures drop, we do experience temporary freedom from some nasty pests, but the good bugs also seem to vanish. However, when warm weather returns, so many insects pop back up like they never left in the first place.

So, what exactly happens to bugs during the winter and where do they hide away from the frigid temperatures.

There are plenty of ways that these creatures survive the cold.

Hiding out from the cold; Where do the bugs go?

Depending on the insect, there are plenty of ways that these creatures survive the cold. Some wait out the cool temperatures in eggs, as larvae, or pupae, while others remain as adults and find ways to adapt and live on through the most chilling months. You’d be surprised how many insects are waiting out the cold and how many have found alternatives to dying off. Here are five ways that insects make it through the winter.

1. Avoid it, by migrating – or hiding in your house

Much like birds flying south for the winter, some insects seek out warmer climates to wait out the cold. Butterflies and dragonflies head out once the temperatures start to drop, while other bugs take the bear approach. Insects will burrow deep underground or hideout deep under frozen-over water. Of course, this isn’t the only way to do it.

Overwintering pests have made it a habit of finding their way inside homes, only to reemerge in the spring. Asian lady beetles stink bugs, and other overwintering pests try to sneak inside via cracks or by hitching a ride on anything that makes its way indoors. You may not even notice they are inside until spring rolls around and you experience a hatching. Still, it is a way that these creatures have adapted to living through the winter.

2. The Cold Doesn’t Bother Them Anyway

Believe it or not, some insects just carry on with life as usual. While many bugs cannot survive the temperature plummet, certain ones can. Mites and spiders can tough out the cold, seeking shelter in only the most frigid temps. Honeybees also hang around but stay in their hives forming clusters to keep warm. They control their temperature by vibrating wing muscles.

Some insects pretty much stay put and live off fat reserves. Mosquitoes, for instance, can go dormant and survive off a blood meal for months. 

3. Survive in the Insulating

Insects can be resourceful when trying to keep warm. Ticks, for instance, don’t vanish in the cold. They tend to stay warm by burrowing underground or by seeking out warm, insulated spots to wait out the cold. They will settle into leaf piles, in stacks of wood, and other areas with built-up vegetation. They can even use snow as insulation These insects will only surface as the temperatures rise, which can be tricky if winter is being inconsistent.

4. Some Freeze

While some bugs try to insulate, others simply let themselves freeze. These bugs, like the Emerald Ash borer, will be completely frozen – but alive. The glycerol in their blood acts like an anti-freeze that keeps their livelihood kicking.

Their bodies are completely set-in suspended animation; they even appear dead! Rest assured, these bugs are still very much alive. Of course, should a pair of warm hands find them, they may instantly die.

While some bugs try to insulate, others simply let themselves freeze.

5. Die for the Next Generation

Not all insects survive the winter in traditional ways. Some actually just die off completely. However, they live on by leaving their eggs behind. For some insects, that is their primary goal in life: mate, lay eggs and die. While many adult insects cannot handle the cold temperatures, their offspring can. And as the warm weather approaches, the next generation of insects will be ready for the next round.

Where have the bugs gone?

There is still plenty of unknown information about insects and how they survive the winter. The easiest way for bugs to live on past the cold temps and come back stronger than ever is simply to find a place to wait things out. Whether they are in a colony, underground, or they have weaseled their way inside your home, insects will find a way to survive. 

If you don’t want to play host to a swarm of insects over the winter, be sure to perform regular maintenance on your home. Seal any cracks, fix any broken screens, and be mindful of any opening that insects may be able to slip through.

Check your clothes and any furniture that you bring in for the winter. As always, you can reach out to a pest control expert to help fortify your home and protect it from pests all year long.



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