Harsh Winter's Impact on Bugs

In Central New York, insects reach tier peak of cold-tolerance in the depths of winter, and gradually come out of that state as the days get longer and temperatures get warmer. After such a harsh winter with bitter cold temperatures, and more snow than usual, many people hope there will be fewer bugs. Specifically, mosquitoes.

Kim Adams, Entomologist at SUNY ESF, sheds some light on this. â??Of course thereâ??s some impact, but not the magic bullet that weâ??re looking for either. Our insects are amazingly-well adapted to surviving our winters. Thatâ??s why they live here. Insects have two ways of making it through the winter. Some of them can freeze-theyâ??re called freeze-tolerant insects. Others can synthesize some kind of an anti-freeze.â??

The only thing that could really hurt the mosquito population would be a sharp, dramatic cold-snap that happens after their â??winter-readinessâ?? has worn off.

Entomologists, like Adams, are deeply concerned about another threat lurking in CNY: ticks.

Ticks not only carry devastating illnesses such as the well-known Lyme Disease, but now, theyâ??re carrying a mysterious new illness: the Powassan Virus. The symptoms may not be easily detected, but it can lead to major neurological problems, even death.

Adams tells me â??So the biggest thing that I would say to people is, youâ??ve got to learn to remember to check yourself, when you go outside and come back in.â??

As for mosquitos, Adams says to avoid the peak feeding times for them, which are the evening hours.