Where Do Bugs Go in the Winter?

When it gets cold, we put on a jacket or snuggle into blankets. But what about bugs? Over time, insects have evolved their own methods of surviving during the winter. There’s even one species of beetle that can survive in -125 degrees Fahrenheit! Not all insects are that resilient, so let’s talk about more common bugs and what they do to survive the winter.

What Happens to Insects When It Gets Cold Outside?

There’s no one answer for where insects go in the winter—some survive as adults, others remain as eggs until it gets warm, and some avoid the cold weather altogether. Each insect species has its own coping method, such as:

  • Migration: Once temperatures drop below a certain threshold, bugs will migrate to somewhere with warmer weather. This often means heading south.
  • Overwintering: Eggs, larvae, nymphs, and pupae overwinter in the nests their parents built in the fall. Leaf litter, layers of dirt, or other shelters protect the offspring from cold temperatures.
  • Producing antifreeze: Glycerol is a substance that acts as an antifreeze and prevents insects from freezing. Some will replace the water in their bodies with glycerol while others make it in their blood.
  • Hibernation: Some insects go into diapause, which is a dormant state often referred to as hibernation. They let their bodily fluids freeze and thaw out when the weather warms.
  • Seeking shelter: Warm structures like your home or office building protect insects from the cold. They can either overwinter inside, or remain active.

Where Do Bees Go in the Winter?

Honey bees forage in the summer and fall so they can overwinter in their hive. Worker bees vibrate their wings to generate heat and keep their queen warm. The core temperature of the hive can be as high as 90 degrees Fahrenheit!

Where Do Flies Go in the Winter?

Most species of flies overwinter as pupae. They’ll remain buried 1-6 inches underground, protected from wind, cold temperatures, and winter weather. Then, they’ll emerge in the spring and continue their development into adults.

Where Do Wasps Go in the Winter?

Majority of wasp colonies die off in the first frost, except for female wasps that are going to become queens. These survivors have decreased activity levels and rely on stored resources to make it through the winter. Colonies that are established inside, like in attics or sheds, will have more surviving wasps.

Where Do Mosquitoes Go in the Winter?

Mosquito eggs overwinter in water, and can even survive in frozen water. They’ll hatch when it’s consistently warmer and the ice thaws, starting the new generation of mosquitoes. Adult mosquitoes hide in trees, leaf litter, and other burrows to keep warm. They will go into diapause if there’s no water close by.

Where Do Spiders Go in the Winter?

Some spiders only live one season and die once winter arrives. Others will find a safe, undisturbed place to spend the winter, such as inside piles of rocks, leaves, or your home. Once they’ve picked a spot, these spiders will enter diapause.

Where Do Ants Go in the Winter?

Ant colonies that are already underground will burrow further, making their homes at least four feet below the surface. This puts them below the frost line and ensures that temperatures within the colony remain consistently warm. Ants that live above ground will either produce glycerol or go into diapause.

Where Do Ladybugs Go in the Winter?

Ladybugs enter diapause in small crevices like cracks in tree bark and under rocks. They can also wriggle into the weather stripping around your windows and doors. If they can get into your home, then ladybugs won’t enter diapause and will remain active as long as your home stays warm. Learn more about how to deal with a ladybug infestation.

Where Do Ticks Go in the Winter?

Ticks take shelter in dead leaves, rotting wood, or decomposing vegetation. This keeps them protected and out of the elements, allowing them to survive as adults. Some tick species also latch onto hosts like deer, cows, and horses and use the animal’s body heat to stay warm.

If you have any questions about specific pests, please feel free to reach out to our team of local experts to learn more!

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