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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Sweater weather for insects

<ir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-97c4df5f-c44c-df8b-7c89-10f99063e545">Feeling the year’s first frosts, you’ve probably taken stock of your sweater supply. But some animals aren’t quite as lucky: insects and spiders don’t have sweaters to wear or fat to keep them through winter. How do our exo-skeletoned multi-eyed friends make it through?

Most insects simply don’t. You’ve probably noticed that there aren’t as many mosquitos outside. Most mosquitos, having mated and laid eggs that will hatch in spring, die as soon as the temperature drops below fifty degrees, though a few adult females will take cover and survive the winter. Avoiding this fate, Monarchs and a few other butterflies opt for a warmer vacation and are beginning their annual migration south. They will follow spring south and then return here once the snow is gone from the Arb.

Like us, those left behind to brave the winter have come up with many creative strategies. As soon as the thermometer hits fifty degrees, most ants seal up all entrances to the colony and sluggishly huddle together. Stinkbugs and centipedes spend lonelier winters huddling in rotting logs or small crevices. Many bees and butterflies spend winter as an egg or larvae before hatching in the spring. The burrowing wolf spiders living in McKnight prairie retreat down tunnels they have been building during summer to stretch below the winter frost-line- sometimes up to four feet long. Rather than take cover at all, some insects simply deal with the frigid climate. For instance, the winter stonefly, which is native to Minnesota, but not known to live in the Arb, manufactures a natural antifreeze that allows it to hatch and grow despite very low temperatures.

So, while counting your sweaters, just remember: although retreating indoors is a popular option in both the bug and human worlds, there are some inspiring alternatives.

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