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Cold weather probably didn't kill pesky insects

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Various stages of beetles crawl around on the palm of a hand at an insect farm in Ermelo January 12, 2011. REUTERS/Jerry Lampen
Various stages of beetles crawl around on the palm of a hand at an insect farm in Ermelo January 12, 2011. REUTERS/Jerry Lampen

MADISON, Wis. (WSAU) -- The cold, harsh winter probably didn’t get rid of the insect pests as much as we would like for our backyards, gardens, and commercial crops. That’s according to Dr. Russ Groves, the University of Wisconsin Vegetable Crop Entomologist. Groves says it was cold, but most insects know how to survive, even when the frost is deeper.  “Certainly, there are some insect that over winter in the soil. One in central Wisconsin that in fact plagues many potato growers, the Colorado potato beetle, is probably tucked well away in the ground right now under the frost line, and I’d love to say we’d be whittling on it, but probably we aren’t.”

The large amount of snow cover was also helpful for insects that overwinter on the surface.  “We’ve had snow as early as early December. We’ve had snow for quite a long time this year. I think you could find areas where the frost is is unfortunately, or whatever you want to say, fortunately, it’s just not that deep in many, many places.”

Groves says there are some bugs that probably had a tough winter.  “Aphids will often lay eggs and attempt to overwinter maybe around buds and stuff like that on shrubs and stuff. Now those insects are going to have kind of a hard time with it because they’ve been exposed above the snowline to these kind of adverse conditions.”

Groves says it’s important to remember that most insects are beneficial because they pollinate crops, break down decaying plants, and some eat other bugs. He says it’s a small number of bug species that cause problems.

(Listen to our interview with Dr. Russ Groves on our website, here.)

 

 

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