Are Insects Reproducing at a Faster Rate?

By Dr. Killigan
Are Insects Reproducing at a Faster Rate?

In my home, there is order, not chaos. Cleanliness is a standard upheld by all. Tidiness is a must. Thus, when I recently reached for my first cup of mushroom coffee, with rays of sunlight not yet permeating the windows of my east-facing office, and saw an earwig helplessly swimming around in a pool of my steaming dark liquid, I was both perplexed and intrigued. I felt a sense of awe at this vermin’s determination to invade my home. I felt obliged to uncover the story of his arrival.

Are There More Insects in My House This Summer?

A definitive yes. There are more insects everywhere. Worldwide, while temperatures are rising, there is an increased frequency of drought, and there have been shifts in precipitation, whether this be an increase or a decrease in downpours, snow, or flooding. These factors all contribute to an insect’s livelihood.

In general, there are always going to be more insects during the summer, as there is a direct correlation between their populations and an increase in temperature. Juvenile insects emerge in the spring and summer, hungry, reproduction-obsessed, and highly mobile.

But, this summer demonstrates that this anomaly—this overabundance of insect activity—is becoming the norm. Insects are reproducing at a faster rate.

What’s Causing These Insects to Reproduce Faster?

Katydid nymph

Unlike mammals, insects cannot regulate their own body temperature (except for a long bask in the sun or an extensive cool burrow in the earth). I once observed a grasshopper in the early hours of the morning, before the sun had begun to peak over the horizon. Dew clung to my bare ankles, my breath felt hot against the crisp air, and the buzz of katydids pierced the still-night sky. With the light of my torch, I considered this grasshopper—stiff from the cold, unable to hop, and patiently waiting for the sun to warm its small hard exoskeleton. Like all creatures of the night (minus mammals mind you), the katydids had to wait until the heat of the sun pierced its frame, as an insect’s body temperature is regulated for them, through the exchange of heat with their surrounding environment. This is because insects are poikilothermic, or cold-blooded creatures.

With warmer temperature, many poikilotherms will naturally up their game, reproducing more quickly and in less time. Why? Because they can. There is less cold and more time for pleasure. Insects live to breed, so if they can do it drive-thru style, they will. In extreme heat (or a period of high heat and humidity with temperatures above 90 degrees for at least two to three days), grasshopper nymphs become adults in around 30 days, rather than 40-60 days in cooler environments. In the same heat spell, the common housefly lays eggs that will hatch in fewer than eight hours, rather than the average of 20 hours. Not only that, but these flies will then become reproducing adults in as little as four days.

My friend, our earth is not the same one from our childhood. This spike in our insect population is likely going to surge yet further.

What Other Problems Arise with an Increase in Insect Populations?

Worker spraying pesticides

Another interesting (and problematic) issue is that, with the earth’s heat climbing, an insect’s metabolism speeds up. They’re burning more energy and thus eating more crops, crops that insects like to eat—like wheat, corn, and rice—that we depend upon, crops that the world’s ever-growing population needs for survival.

With these issues at hand, should farmers use more pesticides (with a pesticide generally being a chemical or mixture of chemicals used to kill, repel, or control pests and that can be both toxic and hazardous to both you and I and our environment)?

What Can You Do to Help Our Environment?

To decrease the amount of harm that humans may cause on our planet, from greenhouse gas emissions to its trickle down symptoms of an increase in populations of insects, it's easier to look at this issue through a smaller scope. Instead of thinking about how we individually can save our planet, perhaps ponder this question: "How can I impact my community in such a way that it’ll be a better place for my children and grandchildren to live?" There are a few things that we can all do:

  • Make your home energy efficient.
  • Pursue zero waste.
  • Compost your food scraps.
  • Carry a tote bag, reusable water bottle, and reusable coffee mug.
  • Buy less and longer-lasting clothing.
  • Check out your favorite brand’s mission statement and values.
  • Reduce the amount of pollution that penetrates the soil, water, and air by using eco-friendly and effective pest control solutions. Basically, do your own pest control.
  • Gain a better understanding of the risks associated with toxic pesticides.

How Do You Do Your Own Pest Control?

This part is easy. Look at our mission statement, our vision, and our values and choose the non-toxic route. Use The Fly Inn to snag those flies, The Insect Buster for earwigs and ants that are entering through cracks and crevices in your home, and Sweet Surrender for those noxious fruit flies. For all of our product listings, shop our collection of products. I’ll search the world and find the best solutions for you. Relax and enjoy that icy cold glass of water (from your reusable water bottle).

Final Word on Are insects Reproducing at a Faster Rate

Have you seen more insects in your home this summer? Perhaps you, too, have a swimming earwig story. It would be my pleasure to read about your experiences. Feel free to comment below.


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