Friday, December 4, 2009

Brrrrr- Baby It's Cold Outside!

Have you been outside today? I would think that somehow I got transported back to Ohio if I weren't currently sitting in my office in Austin listening to Christmas carols. Holy crikey- it's COLD! There was a reason that I moved to avoid the COLD!

The good things about the cold turn in the weather:
1. hubby is excited that it might snow (being a Texan, things like snow excite him while I've had my fill of snow while tramping around Ohio State- walking to class in snow/slush & freezing temperatures is not a good time)
2. the boy might get to see snow for the first time- great photo op, right?
3. mulled cider and hot chocolate- mmmmm
4. deer chili- double mmmmm
5. it helps my Christmas spirit

Okay, so onto the buggy part of this post. I often get questions- mostly from children- about where bugs go during the winter. Adaptations that insects have to survive the winter:

1. Migration
Insects move to a location where temperatures are not as cold. The most well known example of migrating insects is probably the Monarch butterfly.

2. Freeze tolerance
Some insects are able to survive having some of their body tissues frozen. When temperatures warm up, the insect "thaws out" and goes about it's business.

3. Communal living
Many insects will cluster together and use collective heat to survive freezing temperatures. Ladybugs are a good example. The video below is a clip I took on a recent trip to Ohio. The ladybugs begin aggregating each fall and usually find their way into my parent's house. The video shows them gathering on my grandparent's motorhome.

4. Insect antifreeze
(read on...this is going to make great dinner conversation for you tonight!)
Some insects produce glycerol, a compound similar to anti-freeze, in the fall to prepare for overwintering. These compounds allow body tissues to supercool and remain above their freezing point.

So now that you know how the bugs are going to survive tonight, what do you have in mind to keep warm?

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