Different insect have different survival techniques for fairing weather conditions. In general, insects prefer the spring and fall and resort away from extreme high or low temperatures. Thus, the recent ice storm and freezing conditions have sent many insects into survival mode during the winter months. One strategy that some insects use is migration. They simply move where there are warmer temperatures during the cold months; true-migratory animals return year after year to the same region. For example, the Monarch Butterfly is an insect that migrates to warmer regions such as Mexico City to avoid the frigid temperatures.
Most adult insects choose to stay the course and they often move into human establishments such as homes and businesses in search of food, water, and shelter. Wasps, for instance, seek to hibernate in the eaves and attics of barns, businesses, houses, and storage sheds. On the other hand, the honeybee stays inside of its’ hive for protection from weather changes. The honeybees swarm inside to keep warm during fluctuating conditions.
Inactive adult insects’ metabolic rate is just high enough to keep them alive during hibernation; this is to lower the amount of nutrients that the insect requires. Many insects choose to hibernate as adults under leaf litter, rocks, logs, and other outdoor debris. This is because the insects use the item as shelter, food, and sometimes moisture.
Of those insects that stay the course, the majority are not mature insects. For example, some insects overwinter as larvae, eggs, pupae, or nymphs. Larvae can be found all over a forest floor underneath leaf litter that protects them throughout winter. Many larvae reduce the amount of water in them and build up glycerol that acts as a type of antifreeze to keep the larvae from freezing. Those larvae that do not build up glycerol typically go farther into the soil to prevent from freezing. Nymphs and pupae can also be found overwintering in leaf litter or ponds. Nymphs and pupae continue feeding and growing throughout the winter months so that they can emerge in slightly warmer temperatures. Insects can overwinter during the egg stage as well. Their future development is based highly on where their mother deposited them for the winter and how well they are protected.
Overall, insects are able to survive harsh winter temperatures best when they are not fluctuating back and forth and the temperatures decrease gradually. In fact, most insects are in danger when the temperature begins falling below forty degrees Fahrenheit. There are a large number of insects that die out over the extreme winter months; however, many have adapted to survive the extreme conditions.