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How do Chicagoland Insects Survive the Winter?

Last year, Chicagoland experienced one of its coldest winters in decades. While Chicagoans weathered the polar vortex by bundling up and increasing the heat, somehow, somewhere, myriads of insects and other pests were also surviving the icy temperatures, preparing to make their annual appearances when the warmer
months rolled around. After such a winter, many people wondered how they still had pests come spring.

So how do insects survive the winter months? The truth is, not all do. Cold winters serve an important purpose in killing off many individual insects (like deer ticks, for example, which thrive during summers that follow mild winters). But cold winters don’t deal nearly as deadly a blow to all common pests as many would hope.

Take the emerald ash borer, for example, which threatens 17% of Chicago’s parkway trees each year. This little beetle can withstand temperatures as low as -25 degrees F—a temperature rarely reached in our area.

Here’s how it works. When fall arrives and the weather begins to cool, outdoor insects produce ethylene glycol, an important ingredient in your car’s anti-freeze. This gives them a “supercooling” threshold. If the weather stays above the threshold, the insect is likely to survive.

In addition to supercooling, insects do a lot of burrowing for the winter – whether underground, beneath fallen leaves, or under tree bark. Many of the insects in our state also live as far south as Georgia and as far north as Canada, so they’re pretty well adapted to any type of weather. That means, when spring arrives, you can expect to see them in your homes and gardens once again – regardless of what the winter looked like.

Pointe Pest Control is Chicagoland’s go-to source for local pests in any season. Our expert technicians provide ongoing regular services to protect your home and keep out unwelcome guests. Contact us today to learn more.