Pest Myths: Cold Weather Kills off Bugs

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Happy Friday, Tri-County Pest Control fans, and welcome to our latest installment in the Pest Myth series! Last time, we took a look at whether or not moths really eat clothes (which you can read here), and this time, we are going to dive into a claim you may hear during these next couple months. Come join us today, as we see if the cold weather really kills off pests!

To get to the bottom of this caper, we need to delve a bit into biology. You may remember from your science classes that humans live in a state of homeostasis: namely, that we burn energy to keep our body at a consistent temperature.  This is what makes us and other mammals warm-blooded and allows us to live in cold environments without putting our bodies at extreme risk. Well, insects and other bugs cannot do that. Much like lizards, their body temperature reflects the outside temperature, meaning that their body physically cannot stay warm if it is freezing outside.  That being said, many pests will overwinter—think of it like hibernating—and wait until the warm weather returns.  

While different critters have different ways of overwintering, they all want to conserve as much energy as possible because there is not as much food available.  Since there is a food chain of insects, other bugs can’t eat if their food is lying low for the winter, and so it makes the most sense to not expend energy to fruitlessly find a meal.  However, some pests, like the ant, plan ahead, and use the waning days of fall to gather up food and store it in their underground colonies so that they’ll have plenty of food to eat even when it’s freezing outside.

Yet, other pests will try to find a spot where they can still catch an easy meal despite the cold temperatures.  For example, spiders are known for trying to get into houses during the winter, since it represents a warm place to stay with plenty of eating options.  Same goes for the cockroach: millions of years of adaptation have taught them to find a place to overwinter where food is available, which makes your home or business a prime target.

So, to answer the myth: No, cold weather does not kill off all pests.  You are likely to not see as many pests during the winter—not because they have died off—but rather because they are overwintering, waiting for the weather to get better and food to become available.  While this means that you’ll come across fewer pests in the winter, it also means that a whole bunch of hungry pests will be coming out in the spring. Yet, don’t be alarmed, as we have plenty of time to prepare for that.

Have a great weekend! 

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