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Saturday February 6th, 2016 2:30AM

Will the harsh winter mean fewer mosquitoes and other insect pests this summer?

By Staff
ATLANTA - A harsh winter like the one in north Georgia this year does not necessarily mean fewer insect pests says the Georgia Department of Agriculture.

Elmer Gray, an Extension Entomologist with University of Georgia Extension, points out that not all insects are susceptible to winter-kill.

"Insects are very adapted to the cold weather, and the low temperatures that we had in January and February, while kind of unusual for us in recent years, are not unusual in terms of the... hundreds of millions of years that insects have been around," said Gray.

It is worth noting, he added, that very cold temperatures in the middle of winter are going to have less of an effect on insects than a cold snap in early fall or late spring. In the middle of winter the insects are more likely to be fully acclimated physiologically to the cold weather.

"As the temperatures turn cool in the fall, they gradually adjust and prepare themselves for the winter," said Gray.

Even if this winter's cold weather did kill more mosquitoes than last winter's, mosquitoes can reproduce rapidly to fill the void when warm weather arrives.

Also, experts say, remember that harsh conditions are a two-edged sword. If cold weather killed lots of insect pests, it could also kill beneficial insects or the insects or other animals that feed on insect pests.

In some cases, a mild winter can negatively affect some insect populations as much as a cold winter by keeping insects in a state of semi-hibernation in which they use more of their energy reserves.
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