Most living creatures fare poorly in cold temperatures, and insects are no exception. Scientists from the University of Missouri explain what happens to insects once the thermometer begins to drop.
Cold Weather Survival Methods of Insects
– Some insects take their cues from birds and head for warmer climates during winter months. Monarch butterflies and green darner dragonflies are two species that migrate to Mexico in late summer and early fall.
– Freeze-avoidance is a technique where insects cold-proof their body through lowering the temperatures at which their bodily fluids freeze. Some insects empty their gut to prevent internal ice formation, while others actually produce antifreeze proteins that counteract development of ice crystals.
– Insects who are freeze-tolerant have nucleation-active agents within their body that render any internal ice formations non-lethal.
– As with humans and animals, the easiest way for insects to withstand cold weather is to seek shelter. Common forms of shelter can take the form of buildings or natural elements such as tree bark, leaves, rocks and hives.
– Like bears, insects can become dormant in a state known as diapause. Falling temperatures activate hormones that lower metabolism and energy requirements. These insects then resume normal activities when spring brings warmer weather.
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