Where do insects go in the winter? It depends on the type of insect and the climate in the area. Knowing how to protect your property against insects that hibernate indoors or on the grounds surrounding your business is a smart way to ensure you aren't dealing with an infestation either over the winter or come spring.
Here's what you need to know about how insects spend the winter months—and what you need to keep in mind to protect your business.
Common Types of Hibernating Insects
When it comes to finding a place to wait out the winter, insects follow their instincts. For some, that means migrating to a warmer climate, and for others, that means slowing down and conserving energy until spring. Whether you run a restaurant, hotel, warehouse, or any type of commercial space, you'll want to keep an eye out for these hibernating insects.
Yellowjackets and paper wasps
Have you ever noticed that yellowjackets and wasps get more aggressive in the fall? That's because yellowjacket and paper wasp colonies are only built to last a single season. In the fall, adult males and fertile females will leave their colonies in search of a mate. After mating, the males die off and the females find a place to hibernate for the winter. They can't survive temperatures colder than 45 degrees Fahrenheit for long, so they will be on the lookout for a hiding spot to stay from approximately November to April.
Wasps and yellowjackets will often settle in natural locations like tree stumps, underground holes, or compost piles, but they might also choose places like storage sheds, crawlspaces, or attics. In the spring, fertilized queens come out of hibernation to start a new nest, which they might start building on your property.
To help ensure hibernating yellowjacket and wasp queens don't get inside your business, make sure all cracks and holes are sealed up and broken windows or screens are repaired. In the spring, keep an eye out for new nests. If you suspect one is growing near your business, call in a professional to get rid of it safely and efficiently.
The life cycle of a mosquito is very short with some species only living for a few days, so they must make the most of their time. As it gets colder, mosquitoes will either hibernate or die. Different species handle winter in different ways. Some will lay their fertilized eggs in the fall, and those eggs overwinter while the adults die, and other species will overwinter by hibernating as adults.
For those that hibernate, they start finding a place to overwinter when temperatures start dropping below 50 degrees Fahrenheit consistently. At that point, mosquitos start to go dormant to prepare for winter. Known as “diapause," hibernation for mosquitos involves growing to approximately 10 times their usual size and then finding a place to burrow and wait out the cold. Their favorite spots include attics, animal burrows, and basements.
Once they emerge in the spring, they'll work hard to find enough protein (from feeding on blood), to help their eggs develop so they can lay them. While not all hibernating mosquitos will make it through the winter, many of them will lay eggs in cold water before dying off. The eggs will stay frozen and preserved until it's safe to hatch. And the cycle continues.
To avoid an unexpected spring-time mosquito problem, make sure to get rid of standing water on your property. From bird baths to fountains to puddles that might freeze over, mosquito eggs can survive in as little as ¼". Don't give them to a place to lay their eggs, and mosquitos will likely go elsewhere.
Notice how the ant population in and around your business always ramps up in the spring and summer? That's because ants are cold-blooded and they can't survive cold temperatures, so they're busy preparing for the winter.
While they don't exactly hibernate per-se, ants do enter a state of dormancy known as “diapause" when the temperature drops. They will become sluggish and will naturally slow down on things like eating, drinking, and laying eggs. Instead, they'll be focusing on protecting the queen and conserving body heat. But don't be fooled: just because you aren't seeing them, doesn't mean ants aren't there.
Once the weather warms up again, the ant colony will perk up and start foraging for food. Restaurants and other types of businesses with kitchens and food waste are most at risk for an ant infestation. A pest control expert can help you eliminate an ant colony that has made itself at home in or around your business.
There are thousands of different species in the beetle family, and some of them hibernate over the winter. Asian lady beetles, or ladybugs, tend to cluster together to share body heat and wait out the cold. Bugs such as brown marmorated stink bugs, cluster flies and box elder bugs move towards shelter as the weather drops.
From loose tree bark or a wood pile to an inviting opening in the siding or roofing of a structure, hibernating bugs and beetles will choose anywhere that provides shelter from predators and harsh elements. For many of these insects, their main food source all but disappears in the winter, so hibernating is their best option for survival.
While some insects are considered beneficial for plants, you probably don't want them inside your business. To help ensure you aren't dealing with an unexpected infestation come spring, make sure exterior repairs are done promptly and there are no cozy places for a cluster of beetles or bugs to get comfortable. If you need assistance with protecting your business from pests, a pest control expert can provide guidance for preventative measures.
Worried about pests over-wintering in or around your business? Learn more about our pest control services.
Which Insects Don't Hibernate?
Not all insects hibernate or die in the winter, some continue living as if nothing has changed. Pests commonly found indoors such as cockroaches and spiders are a great example of this. Many already live indoors, so their schedules aren't impacted in the same way by weather. Those residing outside may look for warmth in the winter and your business can provide that as well as a consistent food source.
The same pest control and prevention methods still apply in the winter—stay diligent with cleaning and repair procedures and call in the experts if you suspect a bigger problem.
Hibernating insects don't care if they aren't welcome in your business, so it's up to you to keep them out. We can help—get in touch to request an estimate or schedule a consultation.