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January 3, 2018

When temperatures drop most people stay inside and keep warm or bundle up if they plan to go out. Insects learn to adapt to the cold also. Bugs are not often seen during the winter months due to hibernation or migration. Some insects keep their eggs and nymphs safe by either keeping them underground, under debris like leaves, or in tree stumps to protect them from the harsh cold. Because insects are cold-blooded the winter affects them differently than us. Their favorite place to wait out winter? Your home. Their main goal as temperatures drop is to find somewhere to wait it out until Spring. However, if they do not find a warmer place to stay some bugs can adapt so they can live through the cold. Both freeze-tolerant and freeze-susceptible insects have a chemical that helps keep them alive in winter.

Freeze-tolerant insects survive by using the anti-freeze chemical in their bodies to control where ice crystals form inside them. They can prevent ice crystals from forming in their organs or cells, while the surrounding fluid still freezes with no damage. When the weather begins to warm in the Spring the ice crystals melt and the insect returns to normal activity. This method is used for insects found in extremely cold regions where freezing and below freezing temperatures are a regular occurrence.

For insects that live in regions where winters are cool to mildly cool, they still have that same anti-freeze chemical in their bodies. However, they actually ‘supercool’ their internal body temperatures to a point below freezing. The insects remain dormant for the winter in this supercooled state, and then their bodies warm back up when spring and warmer temperatures arrive. If the temperatures drop below the insects’ supercooled point, though, they will freeze completely and die. Even the freeze-tolerant insects can no longer prevent ice crystals from forming in their cells when temperatures get to be too low. Ants, mites and insect eggs can easily supercool to survive the winter. If an insect has decided to use your home instead of using its chemical superpowers, call 877-DEAD-BUG.