Entomology (Study of Bugs)/grasshoppers


I live in the southwest, because of the recent rains the grasshoppers have finally come back after several years of drought. They have come late in the year, December and since then we have had several days in a row below freezing as well as had 4 inches of snow, they are still alive. Do they have some sort of insect antifreeze? I thought that most cell membranes rupture when frozen. Why do they still live after all this cold? Every morning I see them sunning themselves and flying around.

Dear James - Some insects and other animals can indeed generate their own 'antifreeze', but I am am unaware of any grasshoppers doing this. I suspect that they simply are avoiding freezing by finding some protective shelter. Remember that snow itself is an excellent insulator, and although the air temperature may have been below freezing, the ground surface where protected by vegetation likely would have been above freezing, thus providing a microclimate where the 'hoppers could survive until the air warmed up.

Hope this helps,

Entomology (Study of Bugs)

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Ed Saugstad


Will accept most questions in general entomology, including those related to medical entomology, taxonomy, ecology, arthropod surveillance, and pest management. If you are requesting a 'mystery bug' identification, PLEASE either attach an image to your question, or post an image on a web page (such as Flickr) so that I can look at it, as verbal descriptions frequently are insufficient for a definitive identification.


21 years in the U.S. Army as a medical entomologist; duties varied from surveillance of pest populations (including mosquitoes, cockroaches, ticks, and stored products pests) to conducting research on mosquito-virus ecological relationships and mosquito faunal studies. Ten years as a civilian analyst for the Department of Defense, primarily on distribution of vector-borne diseases worldwide. Limited experience on surveillance of agricultural insects in North Dakota and Indiana.

Entomological Society of America, West Virginia Entomological Society, Society for Vector Ecology, National Speleological Society, West Virginia Association for Cave Studies.

American Journal of Public Health, Contributions of the American Entomological Institute, Japanese Journal of Sanitary Zoology, Journal of Economic Entomology, Mosquito News, and Mosquito Systematics.

B.S. in entomology from North Dakota State University in 1963, M.S. in entomology from Purdue University in 1967.

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