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Where do insects go during the winter?

Where do insects go during the winter?

As the weather gets colder, you’ll likely notice fewer insects outside. Where did they go?

The answer to this question depends on the insect species. 

Migration

Some insects, such as the famous monarch butterfly example, migrate to warmer climates during cold months. When temperatures rise in the spring, migrating insects will return to the Raleigh area. Monarchs are not the only insects that migrate; painted lady butterflies are a common migratory species that you have likely seen in your garden. 

Overwintering

Insects overwinter in different stages of development. The stage in which an insect overwinters is typically species-specific. For example, some insects overwinter as eggs. Species that follow this strategy usually have thickened eggs or lay their eggs deep within plant tissues or soil to protect from the cold. Other species overwinter as larvae. Many beetle larvae (i.e., grubs) will burrow deeper in the soil during the winter months to escape the cold. Other insects overwinter as adults. If you’ve been reading our blog posts every week, it won’t come as a surprise that many adult insects (e.g., stink bugs, lady bugs, and boxelder bugs) head indoors for the winter. Those insects that don’t head inside homes look for alternate structures or may overwinter under logs or within hollowed trees. Many insects enter a state of diapause during the winter. During diapause, growth and development are suspended, and the insect becomes inactive. Diapause can be compared to hibernation in mammals. 


Overwintering populations in homes can easily consist of hundreds of individuals. If overwintering insects have found their way into your home, don’t hesitate to contact us for an inspection!