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Will the pests survive the cold?

By Chris Williams on February 18, 2015.
spider walking on snow

All of us warm-blooded creatures have our winter coats. Whether it be fur, feathers, a jacket made with those materials or some hi tech-insulating fiber, we need our coats to stay warm during this extremely cold weather.

But how do insects survive the cold weather?

Insects have an advantage in that they are already cold-blooded animals anyway, but still their bodies contain water which can freeze. How do they not end up becoming a mushy mess (you know like when your fridge settings are too low and the lettuce freezes) during this bitter cold?

Most all insects in the northern hemisphere produce a variety of cryoprotectant chemicals within their bodies to survive freezing temperatures. Compounds like sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol, (perhaps you’ve heard of some of these before?) glycerol, and ethylene glycol are synthesized by the insect to help lower the freezing point of the fluids contained within its body.

If that wasn’t enough protection already, some insects take it a step further by producing anti-freeze proteins to help winter survival. While looking around for information on how insects tolerate the cold, I came upon this article about the winter stonefly.

Now that is pretty cool if you ask me! Stay warm!!

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