If you were like many people and wondered if the lack of any heavy freeze this winter would allow an infestation of bugs in the spring and summer, you may be surprised. Brad Bergefurd is an Extension Educator, Agriculture and Horticulture Specialist with Ohio State University Extension Service, said the situation is really the opposite of what may think.
“Actually, a winter like we just came out of is actually better off to kill the insects than a cold winter,” Bergefurd told the Daily times. “Insects build up an antifreeze in their bodies when it gets really, really, really cold like we had in those polar vortex events. You actually see insects over-wintering better after a very cold winter like the polar vortex events of three or four years ago. This kind of winter is actually better to reduce the insect population.”
Bergefurd explained that on Feb. 1 the temperature was around 70 degrees, but the insects would get caught off guard when the cold snaps occurred.
“Research shows that we can probably reduce insects better in a mild winter than we can a very hard cold winter,” Bergefurd said.
Bergefurd said when it goes cold and stays cold, insects hunker down and wait it out then come out when the temperatures rise.
“The other issue is disease,” Bergefurd said. “Under the mild winters the diseases and plant residues can over-winter better. We may have reduced some of the insect population, but we may be paying for it with disease.”
Bergefurd said another result of this winter has been injury to trees.
“Because these plants like our apples and blackberries and blueberries broke dormancy a little early, we had some injury,” Bergefurd said. “We’re still going to have a crop, but we did experience some injury, because these tender crops broke dormancy early and then we had that 15 degrees.”
Bergefurd said his blueberries in Piketon budded out, and then the cold spell hit and froze some of them. Some hops were destroyed by the cold weather as well.
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.