Polar Vortex cold may impact the spring bug populations

Environment

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — This winter has been cold. February ran more than two degrees below normal with seven days that had single digit overnight lows. Rochester’s lowest temperature this winter was two degrees on February 8. Cold air is known to kill bugs, but the conditions still have to be just right.  

The stink bug is an invasive species in Western and Upstate New York that may have been impacted by some of these low temperatures. “Many of them will find warmer places to overwinter,” said Brian Eshaneur, who works with Cornell’s integrated pest management program, “and we know that when we see them in our houses when it start to warm up.” 

While complete cold may not kill off many bugs, a break of warmth followed by a cold snap could do the trick. “With subzero temperatures and fluctuations in temperatures, we may lose some of the population, so we might start out with lower numbers,” said Eshaneur. 

Ticks have quickly become one of the most prevalent insects that cause problems for humans. This quickly spreading bug can give someone Lyme disease if latched for a long period of time. While they die from temperatures below zero, the bug usually burrows under an insulated layer of snow. “Especially with a blanket of snow, they’re buffered and we’ll probably see just as many ticks.” 

As for mosquitoes, they’re doing fine in Alaska, so, they’ll be biting here too. “They’ll probably do just fine after a winter like this.” 

Once the flora start to bud break, the bugs will start to bite with no signs of backing down. 

Recent cold has been able to lower the number of Gypsy Moths, an invasive species in the Finger Lakes that has been destroying crops over the past few years. “The gypsy moths lay their eggs up in the trees, so they are exposed to our air temperature as they go up and down, and with the big fluctuations, some of those eggs can be lost, which is a good thing.” 

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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