When Bugs Attack: Insect Swarms Invade Early With Unusual Warmer Weather

By ABC News

Mar 24, 2012 8:00am

ABC News’ Rob Nelson and Kinga Janik report:

An invasion of insects has crept up much earlier than in previous years,  killing the buzz of this already very mild spring.

“All of this glorious warm weather that we’re hearing so much about really has served as Mother Nature’s wake-up call to pests,” said Missy Henriksen, an insect expert for the National Pest Management Association.

With hundreds of record highs broken across the country over the past two weeks, some cities with temperatures hotter than on average for the Fourth of July, insects, including stink bugs, termite swarms, ticks, mosquitoes, are here, weeks, if not months, earlier than normal.

“Anytime we do see abnormalities in weather pressures, it is going to mean something for pest pressures as well,” Henriksen said.

In the Northeast, parasitic ticks are already lurking in lawns, ready to set off public health threats for Lyme disease. Invasive stink bugs, now found in 33 states and nearly immune to insecticides, are poised to ruin crops, including fruit farms.

Joe Fryer, who has been working for the pest control company Orkin in New York for 13 years, said calls are up 40 percent from last year, and he started seeing termites and ants begin their strike in February. Fryer’s advice to his customers is to keep brush and shrubbery away from the side of their homes because it can create a point of entry for bugs.

There is, however,  at least one insect species that is suffering from the warmer weather – honeybees. Balmy temperatures have caused bees to emerge too early and go through their winter food stores before there is enough nectar and pollen out there to replenish their supply.

New York City beekeeper Andrew Coté said because of this, he has to provide manmade food and water to his hives. He said that this time last year, it was 40 degrees with snow on the ground in New York, and the bees were still hibernating, but now that it’s been close to 80 degrees for several days, some have been killed off from starvation.

It might be too late for the bees, but unless Mother Nature is planning another cold snap, insect authorities say this invasion of the pests is just the beginning.

“We will expect that they stay out just as long as they normally do,” Henriksen said.

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