Archive for Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Warm winter may mean more bugs

March 21, 2012

Uggh bugs!

Not only do they bite us, but some of them can take over our gardens, flower beds and even invade our homes.

So, does the recent mild winter mean we will have more of these pests this year? The answer depends on who you talk to.

Pete Haley, owner of Haley Pest Control in Lawrence, believes there are bugs that typically don’t make it through the winter — that survived this one.

“I am expecting to see a banner crop,” he said.

Haley said business was up this winter and is steadily increasing with the warm temperatures. Last week, he said was surprised to find a bunch of ground spiders in mulch outside a house. He estimated there were between 1,000 and 2,000 of them.

“Always some make it, but it looks like this year most of them made it,” he said. “I just think it’s going to be more challenging.”

But Bob Bauernfeind, an entomologist for K-State Research and Extension, believes the bug populations won’t be any worse than any other year.

He said while the temperatures may have been warmer than usual during the day, they still were pretty low at night. He said temperatures need to reach a certain degree — depending on the bug — for so many consecutive days before there’s any development.

He said insects may come out a little earlier due to the mild weather, but only by a week or two. He said the seasonal activity of insects is pretty much the same year after year.

Bauernfeind said he never makes insect predictions although he has been asked a lot.

“I don’t have a crystal ball. The only thing I can predict is that the insects that are native to Kansas will be here — year in and year out,” he said.

He said native insects have developed strategies to withstand the state’s unpredictable weather patterns. He said some people may think an unusually cold winter will kill bugs, but it’s not true.

“It doesn’t work that way because they’ve adapted a way to survive,” he said.

Bauernfeind said he’s already seen ants in his house — a source of contention between him and his wife of more than 50 years.

“My wife gets upset about these things, and she gets tired of me saying, ‘Don’t worry,’” he said.

Bauernfeind said there’s not much you can do, but eliminate crumbs around the house and sponge them up and wash them down the drain. He said he will spray around areas where the ants are coming in, but it only works temporarily. He said it’s impossible to locate the nest.

After talking about the different types of species of everything from ants to mosquitoes to ticks — which he said will “always” be around, he thought of one more thing that he was willing to predict: In 2015, there will be an abundance of periodical cicadas.

“That I will predict,” he said.

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