Where Do Insects Disappear in Winter?
Have you ever wondered? where the insects disappear when the weather gets colder? Here is a brand new good article we prepared for you. Enjoyable readings.
During the year, insects disappear and come out. In milder weather, these six-legged creatures use our area as if they were their own, and they make us miserable. Fortunately, the majority mysteriously disappear during the dark winter months. They count the days to magically go out again in the spring.
- But where do insects hide during the cold winter months?
- Do they die?
- How can they rise from their ashes and end at the bottom again when hot weather comes?
The answer may not be as simple as you might think, because some insect species find a way to hide, while others simply take over; they magically immerse themselves in the icy air.
Brent Sinclair, an entomologist at the Western University of Ontario, specializing in the biology of winter insects, told OpenMind: “The most common method is avoiding the cold. This method is most common in the Northern Hemisphere. In the South, freezing tolerance is higher, ”he said.
Aside from those who can cope with the cold, a small part migrates to hot climates. For example, monarch butterflies fly at the end of summer at distances that could separate Canada from Mexico.
Some other insects that are considered harmful to agriculture do not fail to participate in this migration. In contrast, insects that decide to stay in the winter and face the cold are also in the majority. Bees congregate in the hive to escape cold air and to conserve heat.
Ants go deep into the anthill and block the entrance with plant debris. So all the insects that have to face the cold of winter have an arsenal of precautions to help them when the autumn days are getting shorter.
Chemical Revolution in the Body
With the shortening of the days, the biological hours of insects are triggered; for many, this is the entrance to the diapause. (The suspended developmental process of an insect or other animal). Simon Leather, the entomologist at Harper Adams University, UK and author of the book The Ecology of Insect Wintering (Cambridge, 1993), disclosed to OpenMind; “The main reason is the photoperiod (shorter days), but the increase in temperature also takes the lead in triggering this reaction.
Cold weather also plays an active role in activating other measures. According to Sinclair, the Colorado potato beetle enters diapause at the time of the photoperiod regardless of temperature, but can only become tolerant after exposure to cold. Exposure to this cold triggers a chemical revolution in the body of insects.
In the late 1950s, it was discovered that during the winter, many species lost some of their water and replaced it with glycerol, a natural antifreeze that prevents the formation of destructive ice crystals at sub-zero temperatures. In addition to glycerol, insects can produce other cold protective compounds or cryoprotectants.
“All insects that overwinter use some form of cryoprotectant,” Leather says. Freezing-tolerant species – which can freeze without dying – produce compounds such as icy nucleation proteins by controlling crystal formation, so they do not damage cellular structures.
Death of Winter
The fact is that the common solution for many adult insects is to die by leaving their descendants behind, whether in the form of eggs, larvae, or pupa, after their species survives next spring.
These immature forms resist winter with the help of antifreeze and are placed in hollow trees, under leaves or rocks, or buried in the ground under a layer of snow that acts as an effective natural blanket.
“In the cold of Canada, even at sub-zero temperatures, insects must be only 30 cm below the ground to withstand the cold.” Says Sinclair.
A striking case is the social wasps that integrate winter death into the complex life cycle of their colonies. At the end of the summer, this Hymenoptera terrorizes the food eaten outside. And there is a reason for this behavior. After some point, all the larvae turn into workers that the colony feeds on sugar water. And the task of collecting sugar from our meals passes to these worker bees.
Despite all efforts, almost all bees die. Not out of cold but hunger; only the queen bee lives under her special fur. In the following summer, it will find a new colony. To fertilize the eggs that will become a new generation worker in the winter months, he will keep sperm inside his body.
The ability of insects to survive the winter in this way still surprises scientists. In recent research, a group of chemists from the Universities of Utah and California discovered that antifreeze proteins do not immerse themselves in ice by simulating their structure as previously believed, but stick to the ice formation to prevent growth.
What’s more, the researchers say, this system could inspire the design of new compounds useful for freezing food, preserving organs for transplantation, and defrosting aircraft. So let’s not forget that next spring, when the buds start to piss us off once more, we have a lot to learn from them.