Q: Has it been cold enough, long enough, this winter to kill the larvae of ants, fleas, ticks and mosquitoes?
A: Whenever we have a cold winter, gardeners wishfully hope that the frigid temperatures will diminish the insects they’ll face the next year.
While severe cold, below 0 degrees F., might affect overwintering insects the next year, most Georgia winters have little impact on them.
Pests can reproduce so fast that their population builds rapidly, no matter how many were killed by cold.
One year I saw fire ant mounds covered with dead ants after an Arctic blast came through, following a week of warm March weather. Unfortunately, that same cold damaged roses and hydrangeas tremendously.
Bottom line? Don’t expect any summer relief from insects, even following the coldest temperatures in decades.
What about a winter that’s warmer than normal?
Even though ants, mosquitoes, and ticks might appear earlier than normal following a warm winter, their numbers will grow to about the same level as the previous year.
A very dry spring might inhibit them. But, generally speaking, their population will rise to fit the available carrying capacity of your location. If you have lots of shallow still water, mosquitoes will breed. If you have lots of animals about, ticks will feed on them. Fire ants will compete among themselves to reach equilibrium, not explode.
Animal and insect populations do vary…but winter doesn’t typically affect them permanently.