Cold Blast Could Cause Shift in Insect Species

Last week’s arctic blast may have created some changes regarding insects come spring and summer, according to Dominic Reisig, NC State Extension Entomologist:

“I think we will see some species shift. It might be hopeful to see an insect reduction but in the short time that I’ve been here, we have had very cold winters in 2010 and 2011 and we still had pretty bad insect problems those years.”

Reisig mentioned a species shift:

“At least in the stink bug, we have seen Southern Green Stink Bug increase in different parts of the state over the past few years. This cold snap will take care of those and we will see a shift to more Green and Brown Stink Bugs. And even the Red Shouldered Stink Bug.”

As far as migratory species, Reisig says he doesn’t anticipate any difference this coming growing season.

As far as kudzu bug, Reisig says it’s unknown how the cold temperatures will affect that particular insect:

“Last year was really rainy during the summer and we saw a fair bit of Bovaria Bosawana – that’s a fungus that kills insects. You typically see that with wet conditions. That did help us out. We know that weather can impact the insects.”

And work is being done on that right now to determine how cold tolerant kudzu bugs are:

“We know of a collaborator in Georgia who had taken insects during the summer and had frozen them and gotten them to survive. Insects will change their physiology. One of my students had peeled back some pine bark after this cold weather and had seen a fair number of dead insects, but around the base of the tree found plenty of live ones. So we will have some that have no problem making it through the winter.”

Since the cold temperatures reached south into South Carolina and Georgia, and kudzu bugs have something of a migratory nature, Reisig says there’s still more questions than answers:

“I’m not sure if we will see spread from the south or spread from local microclimates. It’s really unknown how far a kudzu bug can move, where they go during the winter and what they prefer to go on in the spring. We know that we will find them all over kudzu green, but do they need to go to kudzu before soybeans? Those are questions we don’t know the answer.”

NC State Extension Entomologist, Dr. Dominic Reisig.


A native of the Texas Panhandle, Rhonda was born and raised on a cotton farm where she saw cotton farming evolve from ditch irrigation to center pivot irrigation and harvest trailers to modules. After graduating from Texas Tech University, she got her start in radio with KGNC News Talk 710 in Amarillo, Texas.

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