By Kate Raddatz

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Since insects don’t have the luxury of giant furry hats, scarves or mittens, they get creative to withstand the cold.

“People think this cold weather is going to kill them all off but the fact is they’re natives to this state just like most of us are,” said University of Minnesota Extension entomologist Jeff Hahn.

While not all insects can tolerate the subzero temps, most have strategies to survive. The two most common ways involve avoiding freezing: by either migrating to warmer climates or looking for shelter, or by using “supercoiling,” creating a kind of antifreeze compound for their tissues.

“By putting a chemical into their blood, that helps prevent them from freezing or at least it lowers the point of which they’ll freeze,” Hahn said.

A smaller number of insects can actually tolerate their bodies freezing, but they use special proteins to minimize the damage. Woollybear caterpillars and Asian long-horned beetles use this strategy.

That means, when it’s 90 degrees and muggy come summer, those mosquitoes won’t be going anywhere.

“No such luck,” Hahn said. “The reality is that come spring there’s going to be pretty much as many insects as we saw last year.”


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