Warm winter wakes insects early


COLUMBUS (WCMH)—The brown marmorated stink bug is starting to show up again in homes and garages, though these annoying insects have actually been hanging out unseen for months in warm crevices since late autumn.

Dr. David Shetlar, an OSU entomologist, said, “The lady beetles and the stink bugs have been hibernating. When they warm up, they never seem to be able to get out the way they came in, so they come inside the house and irritate people.”

Our exceptionally mild winter is bringing the stink bugs—which issue an awful odor if cornered or squished—out in the open again.

Shetlar added that most insects that overwinter as adults or pupae produce their own antifreeze to survive until the following spring.

“They can withstand maybe two weeks of warm weather, but if it goes further than that they’re liable to break their winter dormancy,” Shetlar said.

Ironically, Shetlar added that prolonged warm spells are dangerous to certain insects, rather than breeding more spring bugs, because they give up the protective internal shield and become susceptible to running out of energy, freezing and dying in a late winter cold spell.

Native bees and even some honeybees are starting to stir on these warm days, which will require extra attention from beekeepers to ensure they don’t run out of food and energy early in the year.

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