Insects In Winter, What They Do

What do insects do during the winter? Where do they hide? While man can perfectly adapt to the climate changes of the four seasons, many living organisms cannot, and are forced to shelter from the cold temperatures. This is the case of insects, which during the winter look for a well-protected place and go into diapause, a term that indicates real hibernation, a process that slows down the metabolism and allows them not to feed for long months. This “rest” usually lasts a few months, the cold ones, but there are some exceptions. Some species of cicadas, for instance, love particularly the summer and detest the icy months, during which they fall into a deep sleep which can last up to 7 years, as it happens in the most northern states of the USA. Particularly curious are the winter remedies of 3 species of insects: ladybugs, butterflies and bees. This is what they do:


In winter, these insects face the cold by gathering in large numbers under rocks, dense vegetation or in some closed environment. But why do they gather en masse? Because they take advantage of their distinctive color, red, which is a clear signal to their predators: danger! The body of ladybugs, in fact, is poisonous and its toxicity is directly proportional to the intensity of their color. Gathering together, therefore, they are more effective in repelling potential assaults.


Butterflies spend the winter wrapped in the chrysalis, a double, hard shell that protects them from the cold, known to be the intermediate state between the caterpillar and the butterfly. In this natural shelter they enter diapause. The exception of this species is represented by the so called “vanesse dell’ortica”, which during the cold months hide as motionless adults in some ravine, be it a portion of a hedge, an attic or an abandoned building.


The most ingenious insects in winter are undoubtedly the bees. When the temperatures get tougher, they clump together in the heart of the hive to form a glomerule, a cluster at the center of which the queen bee is placed. The workers, on the other hand, contracting the muscles of the chest, release energy in the form of heat. Thanks to this choral action in the hive, a stable internal temperature of around 24 C is achieved. From this nucleus are usually excluded the drones, that is, the male specimens. In winter, in fact, no queens are born and therefore there is no need to mate. The drones would represent only “mouths to feed” and for them there is no space.

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