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El Nino good or bad for insects?

By Chris Williams on February 29, 2016.

Well what a difference year makes with an EL Nino weather pattern in place. Last winter featured record snow fall amounts in New England and un-relenting cold. (Also record setting in many cases) What little snow we’ve received in NH where I’m at is receding rapidly with mild temperatures for most of January and even more mild weather heading into the first week of February.  Sigh! I’ve been so spoiled in recent years and usually in late January I’d be planning my next escape out on the trails, but my favorite cross country ski center has already cancelled events for lack of natural snow cover.

How does this odd weather pattern affect insects? Is it good or bad?  It’s a great question and I’m not really sure.  I always see dire predictions about massive insect infestations expected  due to excessive rainfall in the West or maybe more Lyme disease cases expected in the northeast  due to higher tick populations , but I wonder how often that actually pans out.  The recent outbreak of Zika (which is a mosquito borne viral disease) in Latin America has caused some to speculate that heavier rains brought about by El Niño might be connected, since the principal vector mosquito Aedes aegypti breeds in all types of standing water, and the more standing water, the heavier the population is likely to be so I certainly agree with that.  What is my prediction for El Niño ‘s effects on insects here in New England? I’ll go out on a limb and say we’ll have an earlier spring, and insects will become active sooner.  Will all our favorite pests be ‘really bad’ this year, I don’t think so, they’ll just arrive quicker, and do their ‘thing’.

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