During the winter months your garden does not need quite as much attention as it does during the spring and summer. Many of the plants die off or go into their dormant phase to prepare for the spring. The bug activity in your garden also seems to go dormant during the cooler months of the year. This may leave you wondering if garden pests go away during the winter and if there is anything you can do to stop them from returning in the spring.
There are some insects, such as the monarch butterfly, that go away during the winter by migrating to warmer climates, but this is a relatively short list. Many of the garden pests that are active in your garden during the warmer months of the year stay around for the winter. The reason you do not notice as many bugs in your garden is that they are spending the winter under some type of protection.
Some species of garden pests spend the winter under the protection of the soil. They burrow into the ground to escape the extreme weather and survive until spring. Some examples of burrowing garden pests are tomato hornworms, squash vine borers, Colorado potato beetles, cabbage maggots, and cucumber beetles. Once the weather warms up these pests do not have far to travel to find their way back to your garden.
Other pests spend the winter under the protection of debris and leaves in your garden. In some climates bugs can survive the colder months of the year with just a cover of leaves. Pests can also spend the winter inside logs and under rocks or other items scattered throughout your garden. If you do not take the time to clean out your garden near the end of the fall you may provide pests with exactly what they need to survive and wreak havoc on your garden in the spring.
There are some pests that die off when the colder weather hits. These types of pests often lay eggs that can survive the winter and hatch in the spring to create a whole new generation. An example of this is the cricket. Other types of pest spend the winter in various stages of development such as immature larva, nymphs, or pupae. These pests can survive the winter in their immature stage of development and emerge into adulthood as the warmer weather appears.
It may seem like all garden pests go away during the winter month but that is not usually the case. Taking the time to learn about the wintering habits of the most common garden pests can help you protect the emerging plants in your spring garden. For example, removing debris from your garden will force some types of pests to seek shelter elsewhere. You will not be able to stop all pests from returning to your garden in the spring but a little preparation before the winter will make the task of garden pest control a little easier when the warm weather returns.