Most insects are arthropods, which means that they are bound to environmental conditions in terms of heat since they can’t produce it. Most of them can’t survive low temperatures so they need to find a way to survive once winter hits. It is quite difficult for them to adapt to the weather conditions, some of them have their own techniques to preserve their status and survive, but there are many of them that can’t do this so they will just die.
Of course, it also depends on the place that they live as in warm weather places that have tropical weather all year long insects don’t stop since good conditions are a day by day. Nonetheless, it is very curious to answer this question since we don’t normally think about it. There are a lot of insects, so we’ll give you the details on the most common ones.
Where do insects go in winter?
Depending on the species, insects may or may not have ways to protect themselves from the cold.
Even though this insect is very common all around the world, and it is seen in most places, it can’t survive when temperatures are colder than -9 degrees. Of course, this is for most species because there are always exceptions. In Japan, the Yamato roach can remain active during the winter, though it is not the case for the rest. What lower temperature means for insects is low development, and they can overwinter in a state that is called diapause, which means that the insect is going through a process of hibernation of some sorts, and they can survive winter temperatures in that state without compromising themselves and being at risk of dying because of the conditions.
Butterflies and moths
When it comes to butterflies, there is a species called monarch butterflies that has a migration pattern during the winter. They can travel up to 3000 miles in one direction to go to a place that has the perfect conditions for survival. That’s the way to overwinter. Most of them go from south to north to lay their eggs and fulfil their life cycle.
In terms of moths, they have overwinter strategies depending on the species. For example, some of them burrow into the ground when they are caterpillars and resurface once winter has passed. Others have a compound inside that act like an antifreeze, however, they must be in places where the temperatures don’t get extremely low, like in tree barks or under rocks.
Some people think that spiders will invade indoors once winter starts, but this is not actually true. Most spiders will hibernate, and the ones that can’t just simply die. Of course, their activity will be severely affected, especially since their prey diminishes its activity too, leaving spiders with not enough food to survive. Their activity heavily depends on this, and when winter has passed, they will resurface.
There is a special case that needs to be mentioned, and it is the Brown Recluse spider which is going to go inside your house with firewood, since they can’t stand low temperatures. Even though temperatures are tough, spider eggs can survive them and become adults once spring begins.
This disgusting insect isn’t cold blooded, so it can’t resist low temperatures as others can, especially when they are adults. Their lifespan is not too long either as they only live up to 25 days or even a month if conditions are met. Flies that stay outdoors will eventually die, while the ones that were already inside won’t go out and continue their life cycle. Even though adults might die off quickly, larvae and pupae can enter a state where they’ll remain dormant during this time and continue developing once it is done.
One thing that we know about fleas is that when temperature drops to 3 degrees or less, they will die off in any stage of their life cycle they’re in. Pupae will enter a dormant state such as flies to survive winter, but when they’re adults they need to find warmth, or they won’t make it. Once they notice the temperature drop, they will go and get to the nearest host they can find if they want to survive. Being inside your home, with warmth and food they will reproduce to the point where it can be a huge infestation.
In terms of hibernation, they don’t have a system that can help them survive by themselves. However, there is something very particular that they do, is that they burrow underground where their colonies are. Before this, they eat as much as they can since there will be a scarcity of food on the outside. So, once they’re together, they huddle together, consuming the nutrients that they had eaten just before winter and, hence surviving.
Male mosquitoes are the first to fall when temperatures drop. They will generally die while females of some species can stay active. Some species like Anopheles, Culiseta and Culex can survive the winter by going through diapause as an adult mosquito. Once winter has come, they will stop feeding as they used to and consume their body fat to keep alive, also, they can do this while containing eggs.
These disgusting parasites have a different behaviour once winter starts. It is important to mention that not every kind of tick has an active live during winter months, this depends solely on the species. Most of them will look for a place to overwinter (hibernacula), and thus reducing their natural activity to preserve energy. They need to conserve water and produce substances like glycerol that is a compound that helps them live through winter times. Other species of ticks can be active and seeking for blood, but this will depend on the temperature, as if it’s above freezing then they will continue their life cycle.