Does a warm winter mean more bugs in spring and summer?

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Alabama Extension explains what really affects insect populations.

By Toni Stauffer

Many of us are wondering if winter took a vacation since we only had like two days of cold weather this season. Many people think the warm winter will mean more bugs in the spring and summer, but according to Professor Xing Ping Hu, Professor and specialist of entomology at Auburn University, winter weather doesn’t have much to do with insect populations.

According to Hu, in his article “Influence of rainy weather over pest population” from the Extension’s Urban Pest series, cold-blooded insects evolved strategies to spend the winter hibernating underground or in small spaces and remain dormant until warmer spring temperatures arrive. However, when you have a warm winter and then an extreme cold snap after insects come out of hibernation, it can actually cut down on their numbers. So, warm winter followed by extreme cold means less bugs.

We haven’t had that cold snap, but that isn’t the problem. It isn’t temperature or even humidity that has the biggest impact on insect populations, but rainfall. A warm winter and lots of rain is what the bugs like. An excess of rain will bring insects out of hibernation earlier than usual and can drive pests to seek a dry home in your house. When you have more rain, you have more ants and roaches.

“Right now, the weather is still relatively cool,” Hu wrote. “I already got calls saying rising activities of domestic ants and cockroaches are invading homes. Carpenter bees are buzzing around wooden structures.”

Hu recommends that homeowners keep the grass mowed and reduce the amount of clutter around their homes to keep insects out of their home and yard. Now’s the time to start spring cleaning inside and out.