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Insects in Winter

February 13, 2007

A listener asks: Where do all the insects go in winter?


Where have all the insects gone? I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Scott Burger of Eastsound, Washington, wrote to ask where all the insects go in winter. We turned to entomologist Lou Sorkin of the American Museum of Natural History. He says insects have many strategies: some butterflies migrate, some termites burrow deep underground, honeybees stay warm with shared body heat, adult praying mantids die but their eggs survive, and some insects even go into suspended animation or produce a sort of antifreeze. Others, he says, are just where you can’t see them.

LOU SORKIN (American Museum of Natural History):
Some spiders and insects may very well be very active under the snow, because there’s a layer of space under the snow to the ground and that could be an active highway for a lot of arthropods.

If you have a cool science question, call us at 1-800-why-isit. If we use it, you’ll win a Science Update mug. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.