Being experts in all things bugs, our technicians get asked a lot of questions. Most are more specific to a given problem the homeowner is experiencing, but sometimes people are just curious.
One question we hear a lot is: “Do bugs get cold?” We already covered how some Alabama bugs survive the winter, but today, let’s take a closer look at how bugs respond to the colder temperatures.
Before we get into it, it’s worth noting that insects can feel hot and cold temperatures. This natural mechanism helps them to know when to migrate, seek shelter for the winter, or hibernate.
Originally, scientists believed that insects detected temperature through their antennae; now, we know that they actually sense temperature changes in their tiny brains. Thanks to their heat-responsive neurons, Alabama bugs know how to respond to the temperatures they’re detecting.
So insects can detect temperature changes, but feeling the effects of the temperature change is another story. Insects run on instinct. They can’t feel discomfort because of the winter cold like us mammals. This is due to the fact that insects lack nociceptors, pain receptors in the brain that tell you when you’re in pain. Insects also lack the ability of an emotional response, a surprising factor in the definition of pain.
Natural Defenses Against the Cold
The particular way each insect survives the cold varies from species to species. Some are better at it than others. In the winter, the biggest threat to Alabama bugs is not just the cold, but when temperatures reach below freezing.
Insects’ cells are mostly water. Thus, when temperatures reach freezing points, the bug’s cells are at risk of freezing, causing death. To combat cell freezing, insects have the ability to produce glycerol and other alcohol substances which act like antifreeze. This antifreeze keeps the ice at bay, sometimes causing insects to have a body temperature of below freezing, but keeping them from feeling the effects.
Temperature Detection and Diapause
Bugs use their temperature detection skills to maneuver in and out of the diapause phase. Diapause is when the insects hit the “pause” button on their development. This phenomenon is common for bugs that overwinter, like butterflies and moths. While in the overwinter stage, the bugs will survive off of stored fat and their metabolism dramatically drops.
Exiting the diapause phase poses a lot of risk to the insect. If they falsely detect the temperature change and get out of diapause too early, it could be a deadly mistake.
Vulcan Termite and Pest Control, Inc.: Alabama’s Year-Round Bug Defense
At Vulcan Termite and Pest Control, Inc., we protect your house year round, even in the dead of winter. Contact us today and see how our state-of-the-art pest control treatments can protect your home this year.