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What do Spiders, Insects and Rodents Need to Survive?

During this seemingly never-ending winter, three things have rendered existence possible: Snow shovels, Netflix, the phrase “Kids, go play outside,” and math.

While on the subject of human needs . . . In 1943 when Abraham Maslow published his famous “hierarchy of needs” in which he outlined basic human psychological needs (like love, safety, etc.), he didn’t mention any of the above NEEDS in any of his writings. While most of my studies have been in other fields (lip reading, the Macarena, and all of the pseudosciences), I’m confident that modern science will soon agree with me, and these three items will be added shortly. I’m equally confident that I will receive an apology letter from leading psychologists for their tardiness in recognizing my genius on the subject.

Back to the subject at hand. If I absolutely need certain things to survive the winter, what do spiders, insects, and rodents need to survive? Second question: How do they pay for Netflix?

While the answer to the first question is more complex, the answer to the second is easy! You pay for it! Some spiders, insects, and rodents live inside your house. They are right alongside you while you binge watch episodes of The Walking Dead or Game of Thrones. As we’ve discussed before, the winter actually does very little to pests that are indoors; they are just as warm or cool inside your house regardless of the weather outside. There is also typically an abundance of food and water in your home to feed ants, mice, and many other household pest mooches. In short, their lives are much the same in the winter as in the summer inside your home.

Spider in Bath
Spider in Bath

For the OUTSIDE bugs, however, the story is a little different. Contrary to popular belief, spiders and insects don’t just die during the wintertime. If that were the case, all of them would have died during the First Winter, whenever that was. Perish the thought! Now while that thought may initially cause blissful joy, remember, without spiders and insects, there would be no lovable ‘Pest Guy’ columnist. How sad would that be?

No, bugs and spiders don’t all die. Spiders and insects lay their eggs in rubbish heaps, mulch layers, or deep in the soil. Adult pests that overwinter stay close to structures, in trees and shrubs and so forth in a state called diapause. And no, “diapause” is not something that middle-aged female insects go through, but a hibernation-like state initiated during times of—in this case—cold.

During diapause, insects slow their metabolism down to conserve energy in order to survive. Even more interesting is the fact that some insects even produce a type of antifreeze alcohol in their bodies to prevent them from freezing to death during inclement weather.

And thus, in less than 500 words, do humans, spiders, insects, and rodents have their needs met, and are able to survive the winter. Thanks for nothing, Maslow!

CC image by Mike Fleming at Flickr

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