Weather swings will have a small hit on some bugs, entomologist says

WASHINGTON — Some bugs that were expected to make an early appearance because of warm winter temperatures might instead take a hit from the deep freeze predicted for the D.C. area in coming days.

Temperatures in the low 20s could prove deadly, for example, to the kudzu bug, an invasive species from Asia.

“I think our soybean growers are going to have fewer problems, and backyard gardeners, with that particular pest this year,” University of Maryland entomologist Mike Raupp told WTOP Tuesday.

As for Eastern Tent Caterpillars, which can damage ornamental cherry and crabapple trees, Raupp said it’s unclear whether populations of that pest that hatched last week will be affected by the extreme cold. He plans to investigate on Friday.

Helpful critters, such as honey bees and other pollinators, may not suffer because of the cold snap because they haven’t emerged and become active yet.

“I think they’re going to hold off [coming out] for another week,” Raupp said.

Stink bugs, unfortunately, appear to be remaining indoors or under cover, staying protected from the cold.

The general mosquito population also won’t become active for another couple weeks, Raupp said, so he expects they too will be fine.

The potential for extreme cold to harm blossoms and new growth on trees may pose the greatest risk to friendly bugs, Raupp said.

“Pollinators that depend on those trees could be in trouble if blossoms are damaged,” Raupp said.

“Also, a cold snap like this could really spell trouble for our apple growers and some of our fruit growers.”

Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

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