MadSci Network: Zoology

Re: Can a caterpillar survive the snow?

Date: Fri Jan 19 13:15:39 2001
Posted By: David Richman, Staff, Entomology
Area of science: Zoology
ID: 979766096.Zo

Some insects can indeed survive in the snow.   Some in fact are even 
active on the surface of snow.   These include snow "fleas" (really 
Collembola or springtails in the family Hypogastruridae) and snow scorpion 
flies (Mecoptera, family Boreidae). Many of the insects that survive over 
winter on or under the snow accumulate glycerol, a chemical that acts much 
like polyethylene glycol, or antifreeze.  Others produce chemicals that 
protect their cells from damage by ice crystal formation and can nearly 
totally freeze without being injured.   When they thaw out in the spring 
they resume activity as if nothing had happened.


Berenbaum, M. R. 1995. Bugs in the System. Addison-Wesley Publishing Co., 
Reading, Massachusetts.

Borror, D. J, C. A. Triplehorn, and Norman F. Johnson.  1989. An 
Introduction to the Study of Insects.  Saunders Publishing Co., 

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