What the polar vortex means for the stink bug population

Don\'t squish stink bugs. They have a funky smell. (Courtesy of University of Maryland/Mike Raupp)
Bug populations following unusually cold winter

wtopstaff | November 15, 2014 3:00 am

WASHINGTON — Many residents are holding out hope that the unusually cold, harsh winter reduced the number of ticks, stink bugs and other pests that will be buzzing and crawling around this summer.

A local expert says no such luck, however.

“We were hoping that the polar vortex put the beat-down on some of these bugs, and I would love to tell you that that was the case,” Mike Raupp, entymology professor at University of Maryland – College Park, said on WTOP Thursday.

Black-legged ticks are starting to appear already, and earlier optimistic information about a reduction in the stink bug population isn’t holding weight.

“They’re pretty well adapted to these kind of cold temperatures,” Raupp said. “Ticks are particularly good at surviving cold temperatures.”

There is some good news for gardeners and hikers.

The weather may have decreased populations of the harlequin bug, which damages cabbage and other vegetable crops, and the hemlock woolly adelgid, found in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Raupp recommends reducing the habitat available for white-footed mice (which host ticks) in your yard by clearing debris and weeds. Doing that may help prevent tick bites for people and pets.

Also, anything good for energy conservation in your home, like caulking holes and replacing door sweeps can help reduce bugs in the home, Raupp said.

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