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Warm Winter Gives Insects An Early Jump To Spring Season

BALTIMORE (WJZ)—As a warm winter gives way to an early spring, it's not just flowers popping up. It's bugs.

Alex DeMetrick reports the good, the bad and the ugly of the insect world are all up early.

It feels like spring to a lot of plants. And for insects,  it is, despite what the calendar says.

"We're probably anywhere from 10 days to two weeks ahead. We're getting reports of deer ticks, mosquitoes, all those guys we love to hate are active right now," said Michael Raupp, University of Maryland.

That means taking the usual precautions earlier than usual. Ticks can pass on serious infections like Lyme disease, and mosquitoes that get us scratching are a vector for West Nile.

There is some advice for people.

"They have to do due diligence right now because these guy are active right now," Raupp said.

Of course some insects have been active all winter, sharing the warmth inside our homes. But because they are cold-blooded, it takes warmer temperatures to get them up and moving outside.

And this past winter had everyone talking.

"It's amazing weather," said one man on the street.

"It's beautiful," said another. "It feels like springtime out here."

The warm weather has made it easier for insects to survive. While insects are with us earlier than usual, there is also another wild card in play.

"Insects like aphids, spider mites and our friend the stink bug, if they get an early jump on the season as they will this year, that may actually translate into greater numbers. But we're just going to have to wait to see," Raupp said.

Because what's out now is just getting warmed up.

Experts say the worst case scenario for Maryland farmers would be a mini heat wave this spring. That happened two years ago, costing growers millions in crop damage from insects like the stink bug.

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