DAYTON, OH (WDTN) — Bugs, scary to some, are important to life on Earth. They are currently in their dormant phase, where their growth temporarily pauses. In this phase, insects survive the harsh conditions by supercooling their bodies.
Dr. Don Cipollini, Wright State University Professor of Biology said, “Insects do a thing called supercooling where they will accumulate what you might consider to be natural antifreeze in their cells that allow them to tolerate very cold temperatures without freezing, without damage to their cells.”
However, once the outdoor temperature reaches the supercooling point, they will die.
Freya Berntson, Conservation Manager Five Rivers MetroParks said, “The deep freeze typically is more of the thing that will really impact their populations.”
With temperatures this winter on the warmer side, fewer insects are dying off.
Cipollini said, “That little bit of natural control of populations is missing. That could equal higher insect populations in the spring and summer.”
If the warmth of the winter enables bugs to come out early, it could cause problems.
Cipollini said, “And if you have higher populations of insects making it through the winter, you could have more pest problems, you know, or herbivores that eat plants and trees could get a get an early and big start to the year.”
As temperatures rise from climate change, Cipollini said that bugs like the deer tick are moving further north and are able to thrive much longer into the winter.