Did You Know Insects Create Their Own Antifreeze?

b2ap3_thumbnail_bigstock-transportation-winter-people-74229367.jpgIn last week’s blog we wrote about some of the patterns of behavior that insects use to stay alive during colder winter months. In some instances, the bugs migrate to warmer climate, in other instances they hibernate or more technically, participate in diapause which is a long term state of suspension triggered by a specific set of stimuli to the insect, such as the reduction of daylight hours. Diapause synchronizes the insect’s life cycle with seasonal changes in its environment, including winter conditions.  Prior to diapause, insects begin adding extra layers of fat and reducing the amount of water in their bodies as water freezes at a higher temperature. Instead of water, insects replace their fluids with  glycerol, which is similar to the antifreeze we put in our cars. This gives the insects the ability to “supercool” their bodies, allowing their body fluids to drop below freezing points without causing ice damage. Glycerol also lowers the freezing point, making insects more cold-tolerant, and protects tissues and cells from damage during icy conditions in the environment. In spring, glycerol levels drop again.

In addition to making their own glycerol, these insects create an environment in their bodies that is hostile to the formation of ice (ice nucleation), by eliminating its sources, since to create an ice crystal water requires a particle such as dust in order to crystallize and if no source of nucleation is introduced, water can cool down to -42C without freezing. Taking advantage of this fact, many freeze avoidant insects eliminate ice-nucleating agents such as food particles, dust particles and bacteria from their bodies in an attempt to protect themselves from freezing when temperatures decrease.

Because insects are able to take these measures to live through the winter into warmer months, it is important to continue treating your home throughout the winter season so prevent future infestations For more information on the best treatment option for your home, contact Gibson Pest Control at 888-483-6507 or 828-684-1353.

Happy Holidays from Gibson Pest Control!
What Happens to Insects During the Winter Months

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