Monday, July 25, 2011

Snow Blizzards Stop Flights

With snow falling around me I was on my way to Christchurch Airport early yesterday morning. When I heard on the radio the airport was closed I checked and found that my flight and all those in the morning were cancelled. I re-booked for an evening flight and was confident that the runway would be cleared by then. False confidence as it turned out. I have had to cancel my trip to Auckland to attend the Bunnings Expo where I was to be the ‘expert’ for pest control questions. I am sure that Kiwicare Sales Manager Neil Martin and garden expert Ben Adams will be able to hold the fort.

Working from home yesterday I watched the snow continue to fall and considered what such a widespread cold snap might mean for pest issues around New Zealand.

Cold is the enemy of insects and small mammals. The smaller a creature the more affected by temperature they tend to be. Insects may be able to survive cold conditions by being in a state similar to ‘hibernation.’ Their metabolisms are slowed and energy reserved. Small mammals will seek shelter and use energy reserves to keep their bodies at a temperature that will sustain their lives. If they have sufficient reserves built up through plentiful times in autumn they will survive, if not, they die.

Some insects are adapted to survive freezing for short periods, but few can survive for extended periods. Some insects survive as grubs or adults deep in the soil where they are less affected by cold. Short cold snaps of a few days will not penetrate more than a few inches into the soil. Those insects or small mammals such as rats and mice that take refuge in heated homes can survive easily through the coldest periods. Not only are they protected from severe temperatures but they often find access to food supplies that sustain through the winter.

In consequence the short cold snap and snow will reduce both insect and rodent numbers in the wild, it will drive more to seek refuge in homes and other buildings, but it will not affect better adapted insects such as grass grub or sheltering pests such as cluster flies or rodents that enter our buildings.

What do snowmen wear on their heads?
Ice caps.
It snow joke!

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