why do box elder bugs die instantly why thrown in the snow?

Asked February 21, 2015, 12:48 PM EST

When I throw a box elder from inside my house into the snow, they cease to move and stay still till they die. Does anyone know why? Thank you.

Boulder County Colorado

1 Response

A mature insect over-wintering inside the house is in a protected, warm environment. They are not prepared for sudden exposure to freezing temperatures any more than a human thrown into freezing temperatures without protective clothing would be. The insect freezes to death quickly because of small body mass.

Indeed, freezing is a common way to kill insects when collecting and mounting since it leaves the exoskeleton undamaged and preserves the insect well.

Most insects over-winter in a protective dormant state, such as an egg, pupa or chrysalis, larva or otherwise encapsulated or in diapause to protect them from freezing to death. The mature insects in your house do not have protection from the cold, nor have any reason to develop any, since they are warm and protected already.

For a detailed explaination on how some insects survive the winter, read this article: http://www.colostate.edu/Dept/CoopExt/4DMG/Pests/winter.htm

Thank you for your question.