For those living in colder climates, you may think that virtually all insects have either died or gone into a dormant state for the winter, except the occasional spider or ladybug who have helped themselves to the warmth of your home. You might be surprised to know that there are some insect species that thrive during these chilly months. Last year we talked about Snow Fleas, but just a couple days ago I came face-to-face with another cold-loving species, Winter Stoneflies.
A Mysterious Insect
Last Friday I was about to dash out of the office to grab some lunch when I was surprised by a tiny insect resting on my purse. I think I can easily say that almost everyone at Catseye Pest Control has caught the “curiosity bug” when it comes to insects. I captured the mysterious insect and brought it to Gary, whose experience in pest management has made him one of the company’s resident bug experts. You may remember Gary as the author of Catseye Pest Control’s Tough Job Series. Sure enough, the little critter put a smile on Gary’s face. “It’s a Winter Stonefly,” he said. “And also a sign that spring is coming!”
What Are Winter Stoneflies?
Winter Stoneflies are aquatic insects. During the nymph stage, these insects hide under stones at the bottoms of streams and rivers. In the winter or early spring, they molt and the adults emerge. You may see these bugs, with their long narrow bodies and whisker-like cerci, walking on the snow near their watery homes. Winter Stoneflies are able to avoid freezing by making their own form of antifreeze, a special mixture of proteins, sugars and glycerol. These chemical compounds keep their body fluids from freezing in icy temperatures. Winter Stoneflies eat algae and other aquatic plants. They are harmless little critters and are not considered pests. This particular Stonefly must have accidentally hitched a ride on my purse from his home in the swamps near the office.
I just hope that Gary’s right and that spring will be here soon!