Mosquitoes And Ants and Bees, Oh My!
Bees & Wasps
As temperatures start to warm up, more and more people will venture outside to enjoy the nice weather. However, we aren't the only ones who are excited for sunny days. Many pests will start to emerge over the next few months, but where have they been all this time? And when will we start to see them again?
Where have they been? Termites do not hibernate during winter months. They actually burrow deep into the soil, below the "freeze line" underground, where they will create nests. The colder the winter, the deeper they will go. Consequently, they will stay closer to the surface during mild winters. Though they may be hiding during winter, that doesn't mean that they are no longer a threat. Sometimes, if termites are able to move inside before the cold sets in, they will spend the cold months feeding on your home or business. As long as a termite can find wood, water, and warmth to sustain itself through the winter, it will live to emerge in the spring.
When will I see them again? Not all species of termites swarm at the same time, so if you've seen one, you may not have seen them all. Typically, termites will emerge once temperatures have reached the low to mid 70s, in the early afternoon, after there has been some light rain.
Where have they been? During fall, ants eat a large amount of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins to prepare for winter hibernation. Colonies try to build their nests somewhere warm, such as under rocks, under the bark of trees, or deep within soil. As the weather becomes cooler, ants will start to feel sluggish, and will stop leaving the nest. As traffic in and out of the nest slows, the entrance will close completely. While the ants hibernate through winter, they will huddle around their queen in an attempt to keep her warm.
When will I see them again? Ants can awaken as early as late winter. It is even possible to spot one of the "early risers" on a snowy day, if the sun is out. Once there have been about 4-5 days of temperatures about 40 degrees, more ants will awaken and venture outside. After about two weeks of consistently warm weather, the queen will become active. Consequently, the rest of the colony will awaken as well, and all of the ants will get back to work.
Bees and Wasps
Where have they been? Different species of bees do different things during winter. Honeybees will form a "winter cluster" in the hive around their queen, while worker bees flutter their wings and shiver in order to keep the temperature warm. These worker bees will consume up to 30 pounds of stored honey in order to keep their energy up to keep fluttering and shivering. Carpenter bees will settle in an old nest tunnel for the winter, which can be found in old wood. Only queen bumble bees hibernate for winter, as the rest will die off. This is the same for wasps. Queens will try to find a warm place to hibernate, such as under a rock or inside tree bark. Many queens will not last through the winter, as they will fall victim to predators, such as spiders. Even if they do make it through the winter, unseasonably warm temperatures (like the ones we've experienced this winter) may cause the queen to emerge prematurely. In this case she will likely die of starvation, as there will not be enough flowers in bloom for her to feed on.
When will I see them again? When a bee comes out of hibernation depends largely on the species, their flower preferences, and when those flowers bloom. A queen will typically start laying eggs at full capacity around mid March, and in the D.C., Maryland, and Virginia area one can usually expect to see most species of bees and wasps "in full swing" in the month of April.
Where have they been? Like bees, different species of mosquitoes hibernate in different ways. In some species, females will hibernate through the winter as adults. In this case, adult mosquitoes will become inactive (stop biting) at the first onset of cold weather, usually when the temperature hits around 50 degrees. At the sign of the first frost, females will look for a hollow log or animal burrow to spend the winter in. In other species, all adults will die, but will leave behind eggs that remain dormant through the winter and hatch in the spring. This time is called "diapause", which is a period of suspended development.
When will I see them again? Mosquito activity can slowly start to begin again once temperatures rise above 50 degrees, but they are happiest when the temperature is closer to 80 degrees. Mosquito activity is likely to start slowly picking up around April. Adult females will come out of hibernation, quite literally "looking for blood", as they need to feed in order to lay their eggs. They will search for any area of standing water to lay these eggs. Eggs which have been in diapause over the winter will resume development once temperatures warm up, and a substantial amount of rain has fallen.
With the strange mix of cold and warm days we've been having, it is difficult to tell exactly when these pests will start to emerge. When they do, however, always know you can count on the pest control experts at American Pest to keep your home or business free of tiny nuisances this spring.
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