Pest Control News

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

What happens to wasps, flies, fleas, bedbugs and other insects over winter?

What happens to wasps, flies and other tiny insect over winter?

We don’t see them buzzing around as we associate the bee, the wasp, the fly and anything else that is small, insect like and with wings, with the warmer summer months of spring and summer.
In fact, for people with an allergy or fear of wasps and so on, the summer can present a tortuous time of dodging stingers. Winter, even with the sub-zero temperatures and the chaos of snow, or endless rain, is a welcome hiatus from flying, buzzing things that seem intent of stinging or hurting us. 
But, where do these bothersome critters go in winter? Do they ‘die out’, only to miraculous appear again in spring? If so, how does that happen?

Cold blood and cold temperatures – a recipe for disaster
For many years, where insects went and how they survived winter in the UK was a mystery. Did they, like migrating birds, fly to the southern hemisphere? The answer – or the start of it – lay in the science and how some insects have adapted over the millennia to not survive but thrive.
  • Lay eggs
Insects are cold blooded and this means that any drop in temperature presents them with a serious issue. And so, the insect has adapted to survive. Some insects, for example, lay eggs that survive the winter because they are insulated, some with hair. The adults die out but in spring, their offspring appear in abundance. 
  • Hibernate
Some insects hibernate, finding a warm, safe place to snooze through the cold winter months. Ants for example, go deep underground, enjoying the heat of the earth and not popping some antennae above ground level until the warmer rays of spring sunshine are obvious. 
Wasps, however, have a different strategy. In the nest, as the days of autumn draw near, adult females will be mated and will then fly the nest in search of a safe place to hibernate over the cold winter months. The common garden shed is a perfect example. Emerging in the warmer months to begin her nest building by instructing the males to gather wood based materials and then to gather food for her eggs.
Fat with eggs and high energy food, the mated female wasp can often be mistaken for being dead and swept away but in some cases, they survive. When spring arrives, they fly off to start their own colony and do the same thing all over again. 
The worker wasps left in the hive have no chance of surviving winter but leave the nest at the end of autumn.
  • Carry on as normal…
… because we think that because it is cold they will die off. Fleas and Bedbugs are active all year round if they have a host to feed on. So yes, you will need to check "Buster" and "Fido" for fleas in November, December, January, February…
Some other species of insects that live in warmer climates in spring and summer do survive the winter months by heading south. The Monarch Butterfly, common in warmer climates will follow the heat of the sun due south but in the UK, most insects take cover because otherwise they would not survive the harsh winter.