P.E.I. set up for bad bug year

·2 min read
Ticks are already active on P.E.I. (CBC - image credit)
Ticks are already active on P.E.I. (CBC - image credit)

The mild winter has meant a strong survival rate for P.E.I.'s insects, but there is still time for the weather to drive down populations before summer.

On warm days some insects can already be seen flying about, and Islanders are also already seeing ants in their houses, because the frost is out of the ground.

"When you have a really mild winter — there's not a lot of frost, not a lot of snow, temperatures are mild — there's a higher percentage of insects that survive," said Agriculture Canada entomologist Christine Noronha.

The larger surviving populations can give the insects a jump start on the year, as can an early spring.

But sometimes the insects, triggered to become active by warm temperatures, can get fooled into thinking it's safe to get the summer season underway. They'll come out early on a warm day when there's not a lot of food around, and then get forced back into dormancy by a cold snap.

Pollinators could benefit from the mild winter and not be in as much danger from fluctuating spring temperatures.
Pollinators could benefit from the mild winter and not be in as much danger from fluctuating spring temperatures.(Kevin Yarr/CBC)

"If that happens, and we have a really long spring [with] temperature that keeps fluctuating — cold and hot, cold and hot — it's going to have a negative impact on the insects," said Noronha.

Farmers will have to be aware that if the spring remains warm from here on in, insects and pests could be attacking their crops earlier than usual.

Noronha cautioned that on warmer days ticks will already be active on the Island, so people should be watching out for them.

But it's not all bad news.

Bees and other pollinators are also waking up earlier. And because many flowers are already open providing food, they should not be as hard hit if the weather turns colder.

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