What Happens to Insects During the Winter?
What happens to insects during the winter?
As winter rolls along you may be enjoying the decrease in insect activity but when spring comes again, insects seem to magically appear. Where do they go during the cold winter months?
There are many different ways that insects can survive winter. One of these ways is migration. Some insects will move to warmer climates in order to ride out the winter. Some examples are crop pests and monarch butterflies.
Another method that insects use is called overwintering. Different types of bugs use this method in different forms. Some overwinter as nymphs. A nymph is an early stage of life for some types of bugs such as dragonflies, mayflies and stoneflies. They live underwater in ponds and streams and can survive under the ice. They eat and grow all winter until they are mature and ready to be active in the early spring. Others overwinter as eggs. Few insects lay eggs that can survive winter but some examples include Praying Mantis and Corn Rootworms. Overwintering can also be done as pupae. Some moths in the silkworm family, Saturniidae, will survive as pupae through the winter and emerge as adults in the spring.
Other bugs can hibernate as adults. The homes of these hibernating bugs include attics, leaf litter, firewood piles, tree holes, and under rocks. Some insects hibernate by creating glycerol in their body that protects them against the cold. Bees will hibernate in their hives and cluster together when the temperature drops. They can also stay warmer by vibrating their wings. Insects that survive the winter undergo diapause. Their activity and development is very low and their metabolic rate is just enough to keep them alive.
So although we may not see them, insects are present during the winter months, awaiting the arrival of spring.