Cold Weather Cuts Numbers of Insects

Knoxville – This winter-s cold weather may kill insects like mosquitoes and ticks.

But a University of Tennessee insect expert says we shouldn-t expect those bugs to be completely wiped out.

“Cold winter weather can kill some insect populations here in Tennessee,” said Dr. Frank Hale. “But remember that when the spring rains come, with prevailing winds from the southwest, a lot of insect pests can fly up from Mississippi and Louisiana and be reintroduced to Tennessee.”

Temperatures that stay below the freezing point for several days can reduce insect populations, Hale said, but insects have evolved mechanisms for withstanding the cold.

“In many insects, their blood acts like an antifreeze,” Hale said, “so when they’re ready to hide for the winter, they have particles in their blood that keep ice crystals from forming and damaging their cells.”

Hale said cold temperatures also allow insects to conserve their energy, as they await the warmer weather of spring.