One of the things people think about the coldest part of winter is, "at least it will kill the bugs." However, that is not true for all species.
Each species has its own life cycle characteristics, so the stage an insect overwinters in and how tolerant it is to temperature tells the true story.
Below are some examples of the area's more common insects and how they overwinter in Fairfield County.
Let's begin with the honey bee. The queen and sterile female workers overwinter in the hive. In spring, the eggs are laid, and the workers will feed the larvae and tend to the pupa. In late spring or summer, the fertile males and females appear, and the queen will leave the hive with a swarm of workers to start a new colony.
Bumblebees have hibernating queens that arrive in spring to establish underground colonies. Again, the workers -- all sterile females -- forage and tend to the larvae and pupae. Late in the season, males and young queens emerge, leave the nest and mate. Males, workers and the old queens die, with new queens overwintering to repeat the cycle.
The common house fly female lays her eggs in clusters on garbage or manure. Eggs hatch within a day, and the larvae mature in five days, pupate and emerge as adults in another five days. House flies produce many generations per year. That is why you will see adult flies in a sunny windowsill on warm winter days.
Fireflies, also known as lightning bugs, lay their eggs on the ground during warmer weather. The larvae become active, preying on snails and other small animals. The larvae then hibernate and enter the pupa stage. Adults will emerge the next summer. Fireflies produce only one generation per year.
An aphid's life cycle is variable. Eggs survive winter and hatch into wingless females that give birth to more wingless females, but no males. They then progress to a winged generation that moves to another host plant where more wingless females migrate back to the initial host plant. Finally, males are produced, mating occurs and eggs are laid.
Lastly is the dreaded mosquito. Their eggs are laid singly or in small clusters on water or damp ground prone to flooding. Wiggly larvae feed on tiny aquatic plants and animals, then molt into active pupae. The adult mosquito emerges at the water's surface from floating pupae. Mosquitoes have one or more generations per year.
This winter, it seems unlikely Fairfield County will experience extreme cold or even the annual spring thaw. Keep an eye on those insects as they emerge.
General Manager - Staff Entomologist