How Are Insects Equipped to Handle Extreme Heat?


Bees flying around a bee house in summerHere in Alabama, the scorching summers can create an unforgiving environment for humans and animals alike. Still, many species of insects—despite their small and seemingly delicate bodies—have adapted to withstand or even flourish in harsh climates and weather conditions, including extreme heat.

You might wonder: How can some insects survive in these sweltering conditions? To learn more about insects and extreme heat, including a variety of behaviors and adaptations from different species, read on!

Insects and Extreme Heat: When They’re Compatible

You may already know that mosquitoes (and similar insect species) don’t just survive in high heat—they thrive! Increasing temperatures significantly improves mosquitoes’ breeding conditions, especially if temperatures rise prematurely in early spring.

Since they’re cold-blooded, insects like mosquitoes handle the heat much better than the cold. But that doesn’t mean most bugs like roasting in the sun all summer. Other species of insects use a lot of creative ways to cool off.

6 Ways Other Insects Beat the Heat

#1: Moving Inside

You may think it’d make more sense to see more insects trying to enter your home to avoid cold conditions during the winter, but more insects get spotted inside during the summer for several reasons. For starters, there’s more insect activity during the warmer months, when more insects venture indoors, seeking shelter.

#2: Hiding in the Shade

If insects can’t get inside, they’ll seek cool shade under dense plants like shrubs. Shade doesn’t affect the actual temperature in the air, but it does make the immediate surroundings feel much cooler for insects.

#3: Conserving More Water

When temperatures are high, drought can occur. Insects have several tricks for conserving more water to stay cool and avoid dehydration during droughts. Some excrete dry pellets, while others absorb moisture from the air. That’s part of why the humid Southeast is an insect haven in the summer.

In the western U.S., insects use another tactic to conserve water in extreme environments. A large number of desert-dwelling bugs have waxy exoskeletons. The insect can make their exoskeleton impenetrable to water to hold moisture in.

#4: Turning Nocturnal

There’s a simple reason why insects are most active in the early morning and early evening—it’s hotter during the day when the sun is beaming. It’s common for insects to adjust their schedules to rest during the hottest part of the day and become active after the temperature cools off.

#5: Staying Dormant During Daylight

Insects will adjust their activity level to handle the heat. Dormancy allows insects to generate less of their own heat and conserve water. Insects can take it to the extreme with aestivation, the summer equivalent of hibernation.

#6: Migrating to Somewhere Cooler

Migration is another sophisticated way for an insect species to endure a hot summer. Monarch butterflies are a good example. Every spring, they migrate north from the Sierra Madres Mountains of Mexico. If the temperatures are hot, they’ll keep traveling north until it gets comfortable.


Over time, bugs can adapt to extreme heat, but only if there’s a long period of mild temperatures. If there’s a gradual increase in temperature, insects can become better equipped at reacting and adapting to super high or very low temps.

One example of an ability adapted by insects living in severely hot environments is the increasing production of heat shock proteins. When insects feel the stress of high temperatures, they increase the production of heat shock proteins. These proteins help maintain cellular function when stressors get extreme.

Keep Out Insects this Summer

If insects have decided your home is the perfect reprieve from the heat, it’s time to give Vulcan Termite and Pest Control, Inc. a call. We’ve provided custom pest control treatments in Central Alabama summer after summer for more than 50 years!