Do Insects Go to Disney World in the Winter?

By Chris Williams on January 10, 2011.

Q. This might be a stupid question, but where do insects go in the winter?

A. It’s not a stupid question. It’s smart to notice your environment and wonder what happens to those pesky yellowjackets in the winter.

In more temperate parts of the country, like Florida, insects remain mostly active year round. As long as they still have food and warmth, they keep on keeping on. In our part of the country, many outdoor insects go into a hibernation phase, called diapause, when the weather gets cold. They find a protected place and stay relatively inactive until spring. You don’t see them because they’re not moving around, but they’re there in the soil, under bark or debris, in wood piles or mulch, under siding or shingles, or in buildings.

Insect activity begins to drop off in the fall as the insects’ food supply (plants or other insects) begins to die off. Different insects spend the winter in different ways. In wasp nests, workers begin to die while next year’s queens look for places to spend the winter. Some adult insects are busy laying eggs that will overwinter and hatch in the spring. Other insect young that were born during the summer also look for a protected place until they can emerge and turn into adult insects in the spring.

And of course, certain outdoor insects spend the winter indoors with us! Fall invaders like the Asian lady beetle, the brown marmorated stink bug, and the cluster fly find their way indoors and hide in cracks and crevices, and in wall voids and attics. During the first warm days in the spring (and sometimes on unusually warm days during the winter), these unwelcome guests begin to stir and look for ways to get back outside. But for those insects that are adapted to living inside with us full time, like cockroaches and fleas, nothing much changes in the winter. Their environment is comfortable year round!


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