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Although We Don’t Miss Them, Where Do Bugs Go During the Winter?

While some bugs are usually active even in winter, we rarely see bugs during the colder seasons. As the temperatures begin to drop, it seems like bugs have a special place that they scamper off to. How does the cold weather affect them? Why do they disappear and then appear again after winter? This article will answer these questions and more.

What does the cold weather do to bugs?

You’ve probably heard before that cold temperatures kill bugs, but that’s not the complete truth. While it’s true that harsh winter can kill individual bugs outdoors, bugs avoid the cold weather in different ways.

Courtesy: Fox Pet Control

The scarcity of bugs in winter doesn’t mean their entire population has been wiped out in that area. Although some species die and leave their eggs, the cold weather makes most of them use their survival mechanisms.

Overwintering: Living in a semiactive state

Overwintering is when bugs remain active during winter; they wait out the cold period instead of avoiding it. However, they aren’t always so active. Different bug species overwinter in different stages of their lives- then they emerge after the cold season.

Courtesy: Treehugger

While stink bugs and some other species overwinter as adults and appear to breed in spring, Japanese beetles and other scarab species overwinter as larvae. Other species also overwinter as nymphs and pupae. 

Sheltering in the nooks and crannies

The fact that you don’t see bugs around during winter doesn’t mean they aren’t in your house. Most bugs, regardless of their method of waiting out the winter, still need cozy places to stay.

Courtesy: GTLC

Speaking of cozy places, that includes your basement, eaves, and attic. These cozy crevices protect bugs from the cold weather as they wait for the next season. So, they are around; you just can’t see them- yet.

Migration: Seeking warmer pasture

Generally, animals migrate a lot– for food, procreation, and better habitat. For many bug species, surviving in the cold weather means moving away to a warmer location. So how do they know when to move?

Courtesy: NYtimes

From lesser food supply to shorter days, different signals tell bugs that it’s time to migrate. Before the winter sets in, bugs migrate to places with warmer weather, like Mexico, to wait out the winter. Aside from the weather, they also migrate for food.

Diapause: Suspending growth for a while

Diapause is one of those cool insect features that we sometimes envy. In plain words, diapause is a condition of ‘paused’ growth when bugs become completely inactive. Winter signals like dropping temperatures trigger this state.

Courtesy: BYGL

When bugs are in diapause, their development almost stops, and their metabolism drops, helping them save energy and keep themselves till spring. To avoid parasites and predators, bugs go into hiding before entering diapause. Think of it as a power-saving mode.

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