SAN ANTONIO – We’ve seen how the February freeze hurt our plant, bat and fish populations, but how will it impact our insects?
Does this mean we’ll have a better or worse mosquito, flea and tick season?
Molly Keck, an entomologist with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service in Bexar County, says for most local insects the freeze won’t impact them.
She says insects have a high tolerance when it comes to freezing temperatures. Keck explains that insects adapt quickly and burrow. She says most also go into the winter months in their egg or pupa stages. Keck says insects also have a chemical in them that acts like an anti-freeze that keeps them from freezing.
And to answer the question about the pesky mosquitos....she says no, the freeze didn’t kill all the mosquitos and fleas. She says the only way we’ll see less of them is if we continue to have extreme up and down weather patterns.
“What usually affects them more than constant cold weather is when we have up and down cold snaps and it warms up. So on a warm day, they might think it’s spring time and try to mate and then it gets cold again and they can’t lay their eggs and that disrupts their life cycle,” Keck said.
Keck says the spring will tell us more than the winter what our mosquito and flea populations will look like. She says if we have a wet spring, we’ll see more mosquitos, ticks and fleas.
It’s the bees, butterflies, or other pollinating insects we should be worried about, according to Keck, because their food supply has been destroyed.
“Everything is frozen,” Keck said. “Even people might have had rosemary or other plants that were flowering for warm days and it’s not available for them right now. Hopefully they (bees) wait a little longer to come out but the thing that people can do is replace those plants that died so that you have things blooming for them when it’s time for them to find food.”
Keck says bees see the colors white, yellow, blue and purple better than any other color, so fill your landscape with yellow and purple Lantana, Mexican Lavender and Salvia.