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Freezing Weather Kills All Garden Pests & Weeds?

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Freezing weather kills all garden pests is unlikely.

Unfortunately, the idea that freezing weather kills all garden pests and weeds is a common misconception. That’s because plants and insects have a lot of adaptations that help them get through all sorts of weather just fine.  Still, some of the flora and fauna pests can take a beating in cold weather.. And, unfortunately, others may be trying to make your home their home.

Despite a freeze, critters might still be buggin’ out there!

Maybe that freezing weather killed those slug pests?

Adult slugs are probably done for the season when a freeze hits. But their eggs are laying dormant waiting for the temps to get to around 40F. Then those slug eggs will burst forth. And those babies will quickly be foraging for food among our snow-tortured, blackened plants.

And what about beetle pests?

Root weevil larvae is nestled into the warmer soil surrounding roots. That means, as your plants spend winter dormant, those larvae may be eating their roots. Poor plants getting pummeled by freezing weather!

And where are those rodents?

Rodent pests are particularly invasive during freezing weather. In fact, they may be trying to move into your house. Often when freezing weather tries to kill garden pests like rodents, those critters scurry indoors. They invade our homes, autos, hen houses, barns, sheds, and garages seeking food and shelter from the storm. So make sure your house is sealed up tight. That’s because the last thing you want to deal with is rats, mice or squirrels taking up residence! Not only will the adult rodents survive happily in your attics and crawl spaces, but so will their children, grandchildren and so on…

Abandoned Papery Hornet Nest in Winter

Abandoned Papery Hornet Nest in Winter

And does freezing weather kills garden pests like unwanted hornets?

I’d first argue that hornets can be pesky, but they aren’t actually pests. That’s because they have purpose in garden ecosystems.

But following a deep freeze, hornet nests should be vacant. And, the bees won’t repopulate it next year. Instead the queen hornets are hunkered somewhere safe (like your woodpile or leaf pile). And come spring, she’ll emerge to start a new brood.

If you’re certain a hornet nest has been abandoned…

And if the wind hasn’t blown away the nest, exploring empty nests can be a great education with kids. But only approach them if you KNOW the freezing weather has killed those stingers. In other words, be absolutely certain the nest is abandoned.

And, as much as you might think of hornets as a pest, remember they have lots of beneficial purposes in the garden too. Plus, they aren’t aggressive so long as you don’t attack their homes! (When they’re still living in them.)

A freeze isn’t going to do a darn thing to stop weed seeds from sprouting.

Seeds can remain frozen for years and still remain viable. So, unfortunately, we’ll all be pulling fresh batches of weeds (from frozen seeds) after freezing weather abates.

So the good news is…

Adult slugs and many other unwanted adult bugs are probably dead and gone after freezing weather. But the bad news is your garden is going to face a resurgence after things melt.


4 comments on “Freezing Weather Kills All Garden Pests & Weeds?

  1. Rick on

    I noticed in the spring that there are no weeds under the ice portion of an outdoor rink whereas the rest of the field is covered in dandelions. Seems odd?

  2. Cheryl Adams on

    We had a warm spell in zone 6 (southwestern Missouri) over the winter and the weeds started to emerge. The weather turned cold and freezing temperatures along with snow came along. Will weeds be damaged by the freezing weather after they emerge? If not, when should a pre-emergent be applied and any recommendations on what type? Thank You!

  3. Garden Mentors on

    Cheryl, Thanks for writing in. Could be that the weeds will be damaged following a freeze, but odds are they’ll bounce back. As for ‘cide applications…we aren’t fans. There are many more environmentally friendly options that, hopefully, you’ll look to instead. Good luck!

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