Stink bugs, palmetto bugs, lady bugs, wasps, flies, all kinds of 6 leggers, 8 leggers, and some no legger critters are looking to come in out of the cold. So what’s the temperature inside your house right now? Every year we receive calls from panicked homeowners about this time of year who are horrified that they’re seeing these visitors inside their home. They want to know why this “abnormality” is happening and what can they spray to eradicate them all. Eradication isn’t really an option, especially if there are even small cracks and gaps around your doors and windows and the unsealed openings around plumbing pipes and HVAC ducts coming up into your home.
Most living things are continuously looking for food, water, and safe shelter to live and reproduce. That’s not really a “Sherlock Holmes Revelation Moment.” Neither is the idea of “When Opportunity Knocks…etc.” Typically insects go into a “resting stage” in the winter where they reduce their activity. Some are in the egg stage, or cocoon stage, or larval stage, or even as adults looking for a nice place to rest.
The planet just had its hottest November on record, and 2020 may end up beating 2016 despite the current La Niña conditions which tend to cool things off. Insects as ectotherms (an animal that is dependent on external sources of body heat) are bound to respond to the temperature change, and different species respond differently depending on their specific physiological and ecological traits, seasonal cycle, trophic relations, etc. This is a complex, integrated relationship that has been and continues to be studied in detail. Simple sound-bites can’t cover all the interactions and how they play out but one piece that the citizen scientists among us can note is how milder winters affect insect survival rates. If we take the time to really be still and look, it’s amazing what we see going on in the world of nature that surrounds us.
Insect opportunists like to hunker down in homes, entering at the ground floor where access is easy, but they often end up settling in an attic as heat rises, and those noisy, pesky, obnoxious, bull-in-a-china-shop 2 leggers (us) making a ruckus usually stay below.
NC State University Entomologist Expert Matt Bertone shares more information and some awesome video that explains this phenomenon and what to expect.
If you’re into the science check out the study “Responses of Insects to the Current Climate Changes: from Physiology and Behavior to Range Shifts” by D. L. Musolin and A. Kh. Saulich.