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Ask The Expert: Do Bugs Live Through the Winter?

asian ladybird beetle

Photo courtesy of Victoria Rutkowski

QUESTION: I thought that bugs died in cold temperatures, can insects live through the winter season?

ANSWER: Even though here in Canada we can experience some VERY cold temperatures in the winter, we know that bugs don’t all disappear forever—so where do they go?

There are some bugs that overwinter, only to come to life in the spring. Depending on the bug, they will spend the winter as an adult, a larva/nymph, a pupa or as an egg. They could be under ice, under bark, underground, or inside structures. Some – mainly the ones inside of structures – are considered pests by many.

Examples of bugs that survive the winter underwater are dragonfly and damselfly nymphs, and a few other aquatic bugs. As eggs, you can find grasshoppers, crickets (both underground) and tent caterpillars (in egg masses on branches). Fall cankerworms are also found as eggs in the winter, which can be in many different places – even park benches and fences! As pupae, many moths, including the spring cankerworm moth, live out the winter, waiting for the spring to emerge as adults.

The bugs that overwinter in the adult stage are often the ones that are regarded as pests. These are fairly common bugs, and more often than not are inside our homes to stay warm. They are not eating, mating or laying eggs – just staying warm. Examples of these are Asian lady beetles, boxelder bugs, stink bugs, cluster flies, and the queens of wasp colonies. Be on the lookout for these bugs come the spring!

For many of these adult-overwintering bugs, there isn’t too much to do about them right now other than collecting them any way you can. For Asian lady beetles, as an example, using a vacuum or insect light trap works well. Try not to use insecticides at this time, as often this results in many dead bugs in one area. This creates an unpleasant odor and can attract other bugs to your home.

In the summer, do some late summer home inspection. Look for cracks and crevices that an insect could slip through, which does not have to be any wider than the thickness of a credit card. Start with the sides of the house that are the warmest, often the south side, where many insects hang out. Caulk cracks around windows and doors, check around anything that is cut into the exterior of the house like a dryer vent, gas line or light fixtures that do not have a bead of caulk surrounding them. Check or repair door sweeps. Vinyl and aluminum siding also offers many places for insects to slip under.

Come late summer or early fall, you can use a residual insecticide outside the home, around all areas mentioned above. This acts as a barrier and helps keep the bugs out of the home.

Need help battling the bugs? Unsure of what you have? Come down to our retail store or email us to get an ID, then ask our staff for some great tips and product options to deal with your pests. Alternatively, you can give us a call at 1-888-768-5467 and we will be happy to help you out! Remember – there’s no foolin’ with Poulin!

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