Saturday, December 8, 2018


And yet, even in these sub-freezing temps, there are insects which are still active.

Like this unidentified fly which, true to its name, flew before I could get anymore shots.

Or these False Milkweed Bugs surprisingly still quite active in the garden.

There are at least seven visible in the above image (some just bits peeking though the salt hay), many more having scurried away as I moved in with the camera.

And these caterpillars are all about the yard.

I believe the species is Haploa clemene, the Clemene Moth.

And I've seen several of these American Oil Beetles wandering on the deck and walkways.

Flightless, all they can do is wander.

🐝  🐛🦋🐞🐜🦗

As insects are ectothermic (cold blooded) temperatures below freezing can be detrimental. Yet all of these were out and about in such conditions. It seems mother nature has endowed them with a few clever survival tricks.

Some will die, this is likely true of the fly in the first image. Having reproduced the species lives on overwintering as eggs or larvae. Some, most famously Monarch Butterflies, migrate off to warmer climes. Others have evolved freeze avoidance or freeze tolerance. The former evolving 'anti-freeze' chemical compounds that prevent body fluids from solidifying along with physical changes to prevent ice nucleation. The latter control how bodily fluids freeze, like controlled burns for forest management, mitigating and minimizing any tissue damage should ice form in cells or body cavities.

As it gets cold here in winter and our yard has plenty of insect life come spring I can attest to the success of these different strategies. Often by scratching.

❄️  ❄️  ❄️  ☃️  ❄️  ❄️  ❄️

And excellent introduction to winter survival strategies, for insects and other critters, is Bernd Heinrich's Winter World. Highly recommended

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