Have you ever wondered where all the bugs go when the weather turns cold? Different bugs do different things to survive when the temperatures drop. Let’s take a look!
- Move in with you – This one shouldn’t be much of a surprise. Insect roommates that tend to move in to escape the cold are less likely to cause damage than the bugs that seek an opportunity to move in any time of year (such as termites). These warmth seekers include Asian beetles, stink bugs and box elder bugs.
- Head South – A large number of bugs head south for the winter. The most famous example is the yearly southern migration of the Monarch butterflies to Mexico. Multiple moth and butterfly species join the journey south along with the birds and several types of mammals. Migrating insects also include dragonflies, painted ladies and common green darners.
- Cuddle up – Many insects that live in colonies survive the cold by cuddling together in clusters, using their collective body heat to keep the entire colony warm enough to survive until the warm weather returns. Honeybees use this survival tactic, as do ants and termites. One of the more famous and visible examples are the ladybug clusters that take over tree trunks and the side of houses during the winter in some parts of the country.
- Create anti-freeze – Some insects can produce a substance called glycerol, a natural anti-freeze. As the cold part of the year approaches, they increase the level of glycerol in their bodies to lower their freezing point and help them tolerate colder temperatures. The glycerol prevents body fluids from freezing and protects the insect’s cells and tissues from being damaged by the cold.
- Take a pause – Other insects will enter a state of long-term suspension called diapause that usually coordinates with the insect’s natural life cycle. The pause or break in activity makes sense when food is scarce and it is often too cold to fly. Many insects transition from one life stage to another during diapause, for example, some larvae cocoon during the cold weather and emerge in the spring as butterflies. However, not all insects that enter diapause fit that category. Common examples of insects that use diapause to survive include woolly bear caterpillars, mourning cloak butterflies and black swallowtails.
- Freeze up – In high altitudes and closer to the poles, some insects enter a state of short-term suspension called torpor. Torpor is similar to a sleep state where the insect is completely immobile for a short time (compared to diapause). Crickets are a good example of an insect that uses torpor to survive. During torpor, they can completely freeze solid (especially during nighttime hours) and when the sun rises and warms them up, they wake up and go about their usual activities.
Many insect species have been around for hundreds or thousands of years, so they’ve had a lot of time to figure out the best ways to survive cold temperatures. If you have the unfortunate luck to have new insect roommates in your home for the winter, call The Pest Force. We can take care of pest issues any time of year.