For farmers, pesticide costs can become terribly expensive, Raupp said, “if you have aphids or spider mites cranking through extra generations. For pests with faster generation times, the hotter it is the more they develop.”
Aphids and psyllids, also called place lice, are among the pests that plague farmers. Aphids are a big problem because, when feeding, they can transmit a pathogen that destroys vegetables, said Eric Natwick, an entomology farm adviser for the University of California’s Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
Tomato psyllids — lightning fast and tremendous jumpers, for their size — are also showing up this year in California’s Imperial Valley, where Natwick works. The psyllids tend to infest produce in California’s Coachella Valley, across a desert from the Imperial, but “when I see them here, it’s unusual,” he said.
In urban areas, termites are waking up inside houses, and a homeowner who spots them has a problem. “If you notice termites in your house, you’re only going to notice [them] if there’s a swarm,” said Greg Baumann, vice president of training and technical services at Orkin.
Insects have the upper hand when it comes to survival of the species. “Always bet on the bug. They’ve been around for millions of years,” said Baumann, who lives near Atlanta.
Reports of early tick activity have been received from the East Coast to the Midwest, said Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs for the National Pest Management Association.
Vermont is no exception, according to State Entomologist Jon Turmel. “I would say, based upon the temperature and the weather, there’s a really good survival rates for ticks, and they’re out a lot earlier,” Turmel remarked.
And ticks, which are arachnids, not insects, carry Lyme disease.
Turmel said: “Lyme disease is just starting to get a good hold here. I want to precaution turkey hunters out in the spring to really watch out for these populations because they survive just fine. But that’s just my speculation.”
Turmel sounded one positive note about the war against pests such as aphids and destructive caterpillars. If they’re developing quickly in warm weather, so are bugs that eat them, such as the green lacewing. “They’re an excellent predator,” he said.