Bugged by winter? There could be a benefit

Posted at 6:50 PM, Feb 13, 2018

It has been a long winter season.  Snow fall has far exceeded amounts from last winter and there was a roller-coaster of warm and very cold weather.  However, there seems to be a benefit from all of this - it could decrease the spring bug population.

The cycling of temperatures melted off the snow pack which then allowed the ground to freeze with returning cold weather.  The frozen ground should help kill off some troublesome insects.

That is important to farmers who hope to start the growing season with as few bug problems as possible

"Some always make it through but your populations are decreased greatly, especially flea beetles that come up out of the ground," said Brad Draudt, a farmer and greenhouse grower at Ronald Draudt & Sons farm in Hamburg.  High numbers of flea beetles can destroy a cabbage or broccoli crop in the spring.

Thanks to previous mild winters, there was also a greater number of ticks and yellow jacket wasps that made it difficult for people going outside in 2017.

Marc Potzler, from Ehrlich Pest Control in Cheektowaga, said there is no way to tell for sure, but it appears the long winter could help decrease the number of those pests as well.

Some nuisance bugs like sandflies are not affected because they winter at the bottom of the Niagara River safe from the very cold temperatures.

However, there are some insects that need to increase in population such as honey bees.  Bees don't sleep through the winter and beekeepers are hoping the hives made it through without too much stress.

You can hear more in Ed Reilly's reports.