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Drought Could Trigger Population Crash For Some Bugs, Boom For Others

Courtesy of Debbie Aldridge/UC Davis

Painted Lady butterfly

Courtesy of Debbie Aldridge/UC Davis

Entomologists say the lack of rain means less foliage in some places and fewer spots for some insects to hatch their offspring.

"There'll probably be a population crash for a lot of different kinds of insects this year," says Steve Heydon with the Bohart Museum of Entomology at UC Davis.

He says one of those insects is a vibrant orange and black butterfly with a colorful name: "The Painted Ladies will get up here expecting to find thistle plants to lay eggs on and there just won't be any plants there."

On the other hand, it seems like we're seeing a population boom for other insects.

"Mosquitoes are definitely active now and we are seeing more of them out due to the higher than normal temperatures," says Luz Maria Rodriguez with the Sacramento-Yolo Mosquito and Vector Control District.

Other typically dormant pests that are buzzing around right now include adult house flies and stink bugs.

Rodriguez says, even with a drought, mosquito populations could thrive in some spots. For example, in the puddles of stagnant water in dried up creeks.

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Steve Milne

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Steve is the voice of Capital Public Radio News as anchor of Morning Edition and Insight. He covers stories on a wide range of topics including: business, education, real estate, agriculture and music. Steve also produced stories for CapRadio.org.   Read Full Bio