SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — Indiana’s unseasonably warm March has lured bugs out of their winter slumber, giving both friendly insects like butterflies and pests like wasps an early start to the season.
Although temperatures recently vaulted into the 80s across the state, Indiana’s winter was also mild and experts said that allowed more insects to survive the cold-weather months.
Dr. Mariah Covey of the Kryder Veterinary Clinic in Granger wonders whether the state’s tick season ever ended because of the mild winter.
“It’s hard for me to say if there’s a higher number, but what I can tell you is we’ve had complaints all winter long,” Covey told The South Bend Tribune.
Jeff Burbrink, the extension educator-agriculture at the Purdue University Extension Service in Goshen, said there’s no way to know whether spring’s early start will result in a more problematic summer for ticks, which are not insects but relatives of spiders.
He said while it’s unusual to see bugs of all sorts in the quantities they are being seen right now it’s not that surprising considering the unseasonable warmth that made for summer-like heat in the past week.
“The bugs are all thinking it’s late April, too,” Burbrink said.
He said that despite the abundance of bugs now, nature has its ways of balancing out things. For instance, birds will snap up insects and other tasty pests during the nesting season.
“What tends to happen if you get an insect that tends to survive very well or over winter, chances are good that there’s going to be something that also survived very well and attacks them,” Burbrink said.
In southwestern Indiana, the Vanderburgh County Vector Control has gotten reports of mosquitoes along with ticks and brown recluse spiders, said supervisor Keith Goy.
But he said workers have not found many instances of potential mosquito breeding havens. He encouraged residents to continue to eliminate stagnant water on their property to help keep the pesky insects to a minimum.
“We’ve gotten complaints on people being bitten. But our searches for mosquito larvae and standing water haven’t found much of a problem yet,” Goy told the Evansville Courier & Press.
John Foster, executive director of the Wesselman Nature Society in Evansville, said the upside of the warm weather is that even though pests have emerged early, so have attractive insects such as butterflies.
“So along with all the bugs that people may not particularly care for, some of the more beautiful bugs are also out,” he said.