Note: This Spring, Living With Insects will feature guest contributors. Contributors are identified with a by line and you can follow links to all posts by a contributor. Below is the first of the guest posts.
The weather this January (2012) in Lafayette, Indiana has been a little whack. One day it is a glorious sunny day, then the next day it is pouring rain, then a couple days later we have four inches of snow on the ground. Completely bizarre if you ask me. But if we humans are puzzled by this weather, I have to wonder how the insects that surround us react to it. At least we are able to put a fluffy coat on or slip some rain boots on but insects can do nothing of the sort.
There are some insects that actually thrive with rain, such as the Rain Beetles. Rain Beetles are large beetles, that range from black to reddish brown, and are closely related to scarabs. Unluckily for us in Indiana, we don’t see these critters in action. Rain Beetles are typically found along the West Coast states of Washington, Oregon and California, and Northern Mexico. There are published records of them from Alaska and Utah, but these have been shown to be erroneous.
Surprisingly, many Rain Beetles will not fly unless it is raining. That is absolutely crazy to me! Rain Beetle larvae are herbivores that feed on the roots of plants including orchard trees. Adult Rain Beetles do not feed, and live off food stored as larvae.
Unlike the Rain Beetles, most insects must seek shelter from the rain or other harsh weather conditions. When a downpour starts many insects will scurry to find to a quiet and cool place as soon as they can. Many insects will go in hiding under leaves, trees, and even behind rocks. In January in Indiana, most insects avoid the bad weather altogether by going into diapause and wait until Spring to resume their activities.
Even though Indiana weather should currently be colder with more snow, the insects must adapt, just as we humans do. Hopefully it is not bothering them too much, and they are enjoying the warmer winter just as much as we are!