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Insects and other arthropods

Where do insects hide in cold weather?

Several species of insects overwinter as eggs, laid sheltered from bad weather and predators to increase chances of survival. The female praying mantis, envelops her eggs with a sticky substance, that hardens on contact with air.
Photo: Insectarium de Montréal (Claude Pilon)
Mantis religiosa, ootheca, Québec, Canada.
  • Mantis religiosa, ootheca, Québec, Canada.
  • Hyalophora cecropia, Québec, Canada.

What do insects do in the wintertime when it’s too cold to eat or mate? Do they leave for warmer climates? If not, where do they hide over the long winter months?

Some go away, but most stay right here!

With the exception of monarch butterflies, all of our insects spend the winter in Quebec. Depending on the species, they may spend the winter in the egg, larval, pupal or adult stage. Some of them, such as grasshoppers and ants, bury themselves in the soil, which keeps them from freezing. Others, such as future queen bees and queen social wasps, survive in isolation, hidden in mounds of leaves, under tree bark or in the crevices of rocks. In mosquito species of the Aedes genus, eggs spend the winter hidden beneath the ice on top of ponds. Early the next spring, when the water thaws with exposure to the sun, a few larvae can be seen grazing on the algae under the surface of dead leaves.

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