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Nature Notebook – Winter Active Insects

In the continuing theme of nature’s creatures not following the rules…let me introduce you to more insects that are active, rather than hibernating, in the winter.

If an insect species wants to better its chances for reproduction, then avoiding insectivorous predators would be a good bet. Stoneflies, winter crane flies and snow scorpionflies wait until winter, when bats and birds are gone, to finish their metamorphosis into the adult stage. Their “juvenile” life stages are spent in the water away from those major predators.

The insects are tiny. They range from 1/8 to 3/16 inches long. They fly above or walk on the snow looking for mates. Most species do not feed; this life stage is usually quite short. After a successful mating, the males die. The females lay eggs then they also die.

Snow fleas (not really fleas, but springtails) are the most common insect on land. The snow covered base of a large tree on a sunny or warm day is the only place you’ll see these pepper-sized insects. Their microscopic food is in the leaf litter under the snow. They “migrate” by hopping across the snow surface.