Did the winter cold kill the bugs?

Remember that cold snap? Those week long Arctic temperatures when it was below zero and a ‘warm up’ was 12 or 13?  How could you forget it? Were you one of the unlucky ones who lost power and had no way to keep warm?

You might think little good could come out of those long days when it was almost too cold to even go out, but we heard from the Maine state entomologists – the bug biologists – that some of our nasty insects might have gotten the deep six or at least been stunned for a while.

Now I know like me you were hoping that one of those bugs was the bad news deer tick that can give you a disease that will send you to your nearest hospital or last a life time if it’s not caught in time.

Not only the ticks survived, but the mosquitoes and black flies – perhaps the ticks were either enjoying a warm winter coat thanks to some animal, and the mosquitoes and black flies were either buried in mud or the decomposing leaves that can be above freezing.

So what bugs did get knocked off or at least stunned?

Those aphid like bugs, the wooly adelgids, that have been killing our hemlocks may not be around for a while.  You can see what they look like in the picture above.

Unless they got lucky when it was still warm back in late November and early December, the winter moths, that have killed off hundreds of acres of oaks in Cape Elizabeth alone and some 2,000-3,000 trees from Kittery to Bar Harbor, may not be a menace for a while.

That week long super cold may also have knocked off some of the budworms that have been killing northern Maine spruce trees and the brown tail moths that have been just as busy chomping on southern Maine hardwood leaves.

So perhaps that Arctic cold didn’t rub out deer ticks, mosquitoes and black flies that would miss a meal if we weren’t around, but the cold saved some of the trees that you count on for shade and a good stand of woods that might become firewood for your wood stove some day.

Bill Baker

About Bill Baker

Bill's interest in a clean place to live is rooted in growing up in the country – a cornfield across the road and fields, sandstone cliffs and hundreds of acres of woods where he spent many hours.