What insects do in winter

What insects do in winter

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In the summer there is the nightmare of mosquitoes, even spring and autumn have their characteristic presences that flutter around us and sting us every now and then, but what insects do in winter? We probably assume that they die but that's not always the case. Now that we are heading towards the cold season we try to find out what happens to these living beings when we stop having them boringly around.

What insects do in winter: cicadas

A precise, scientific term to define a very particular state in which insects fall to resist low winter temperatures, waiting for the pleasant ones of spring and summer to return. There diapause it can be compared to a period of hibernation but it can also last several years. The cicada, for example, behaves like this but not all insects stop to rest, there are certain that they use renewable energy.

When an insect falls in diapause, he goes to look for a quiet place where no one disturbs him. It can be a cavity in the rock or an abandoned farmhouse full of small silent corners. Even underground these insects can take refuge, the important thing is that they can enjoy tranquility to hibernate for a while. Normally it is a couple of months, just those when our temperatures are unbearable for them. But there are also insects that take it easy and stay inside diapause much more, just as it can happen to us to want to stay on the sofa instead of going out while outside a snowstorm is raging or everything is frozen. Those most reluctant to face low temperatures even reach 7-year breaks, among these are the cicadas that therefore fill the forests of the northern states of the United States only every 7 years. In the South, diapause lasts even longer, for 13 or 17 years depending on the genetic strain.

What insects do in winter: bees

A completely different strategy is the one put into play by bees that remain active during the winter by exploiting the energy contained in honey. Maybe not seeing them around, we always thought they died, but bees spend their time when it's cold cold days inside their hive but certainly not to take a siesta like cicadas. They transform into "radiators" so that their hive can have temperatures suitable for the queen.

It is precisely the worker bees that form a mass of bodies, uniting around the queen, which is called the glomerulus. By contracting the strong chest muscles the warm and protect it from the cold because their energy is not transformed into work but into heat. With this method they can ensure a temperature of about 23 degrees inside the hive.

Let's see better how we get to this temperature, how bees become “natural warmers”. Their only natural fuel is nectar of flowers which is dehydrated and then stored in the form of honey.

What insects do in winter: butterflies

There are also cases where unfortunately the insect greets us at the end of the season. It happens frequently with butterflies but they have a very special task before dying, those of laying their eggs, so that the species does not become extinct. It is very important, as you can imagine, that they are placed in a place that is protected both from other living beings and from the cold. Rock crevices, holes and crevices in walls, barks, and dead logs can be excellent hiding places. As soon as the season becomes milder, the eggs will hatch. Each butterfly has the two preferences and its own strategies, for example those of the species Papilio machaon (Macaone) they deposit their eggs on the wild fennel plant so that the larva can then feed on them comfortably.

There are butterflies that do not give up in winter and are able to resist low temperatures trying to take refuge in sheltered environments. Just so does the Vanessa atalanta.

In the podalirio (Iphiclides podalirius) for example, and in many other species, the larvae pupate during the winter season and as soon as spring arrives they can directly make the metamorphosis and become adults.
Each insect has its own specific strategy, very often also adapted to the climate of the area where it lives, it is curious to see how all these beings have found a way not to extinguish their own species.

What insects do in winter: books

If you want to know more about the behavior of various insects, here are some books that can help you. They are all children's books, ages 6 and up, full of information but also of figures who best of all are sometimes able to tell the nature that surrounds us.

  • Super insects, a manual with many curiosities about the insects of the world
  • All about the insects of National Geographic, wonderful figures and lots of information
  • The secret world of insects, with delicacy and curiosity, accompanies us to discover the habits of microscopic beings.

Video: How Do Insects Survive the Winter? (May 2022).