Polk County Conservation

How Insects Survive Winter

  • How do insects survive the winter?

    Insects survive the winter in a variety of ways. Some insects like mosquitoes and preying mantids overwinter as eggs, lying dormant until hatching conditions are right in the spring. Other insects overwinter in the larva or pupa stage. In the fall, some moth caterpillars dig down into the ground and form pupae (cocoons). The earth keeps them warm during winter and hides them from hungry birds and mice. Many insects hibernate as adults. To keep from freezing, insects are able to replace the water in their bodies with glycerol, which acts as antifreeze. Tree holes, leaf litter, and under logs and rocks are common shelters for overwintering adult insects. The Mourning Cloak Butterfly is usually the first butterfly that is noticed in the spring because it hibernates in tree holes or other shelters during the winter. Then there are insects like the monarch butterfly that migrate to escape the cold temperatures. Believe it or not, but some insects are active in the winter. The nymphs of dragonflies, mayflies and stoneflies live underwater in ponds and streams. They feed and grow during winter to emerge as adults in early spring.

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    Administration Office
    12130 NW 128th St
    Granger, IA 50109

    P: (515) 323-5300
    F: (515) 323-5354

    Monday – Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

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