Temperature variation and insect survival

#1

I have lived in the Chicago area for about 5 years now, and I have been wondering how the relatively unpredictable weather conditions during April/May (with temperatures sometimes oscillating between 35 and 70 F within hours) affect the life cycle of insects.
For example, we had a snow storm last Saturday, and as I was watching the snow violently pushed to the ground by the strong wind I kept thinking “how many of the American Ladies and Red Admirals I saw yesterday should I expect to die today? 20%, 60%?”
I’m thinking of insects in particular because I perceive arthropods as somehow less likely to resist extreme temperatures and weather conditions than most of the vertebrates living in the area; but that is just my unfounded intuition :-)
I would appreciate it very much if somebody could either provide some evidence and educated intuition about this, or/and point to research on the topic.

Thank you very much for your help!

3 Likes
#2

I couldn’t tell you for most stuff up there, but most of the very small insects and arachnids should do just fine under the snow. Snow is actually a great insulator. Lepidoptera may have a harder time as adults, but I think many go beneath the snow and pop out okay.

#3

Have you asked in some facebook entomology group? Or I can ask on your behalf?

#5

That makes sense. Indeed there are insects who are clearly much better equipped to survive winter temperatures and snow. For example many coccinellidae hibernate inside crevices in our building. However, I wonder what happens once they leave their hole.
I guess there is some randomness in the process so some of them will leave earlier than others, and will occasionally face winter storms in the middle of a regular Spring week. I wonder what happens to them, are they going to be ‘selected out’?

#6

I have not. I am not on facebook and I don’t know this group. Although it would be great if you could ask. Thank you!

I look forward to reading the replies