Insects can be found on all the the world’s continents including Antarctica. The Antarctic is inhospitable to most insects. There is only one insect species that survives year round on Antarctica, the Chironomid Midge, Belgica antarctica. This tiny fly is only active during the Antarctic summer. When the temperatures warm to a balmy 4 degrees centigrade, (39 degrees Fahrenheit) the midge larvae become active. Food is not plentiful in Antarctica and the midges take two years to develop into adults. The midge is the largest permanent land animal in Antarctica. Other animals may visit in the summer, but do not stay the winter.How does the midge survive freezing temperatures? When animals freeze, the water inside their cells and tissue expands (water expands when it freezes to ice) and for most animals, this causes irreparable damage. The midge, however, is capable of dehydrating its tissues and can survive temperatures of -15 degrees C (5 degrees Fahrenheit). The dehydration prevents ice crystals from damaging the insect. When the temperatures warm, the midge thaws, absorbs water from the environment and resumes feeding.
The adults, like most midges, are short lived. The adults mate and die. Interestingly, the adults are wingless. Flying typically will not take them to a better location and could easily land them in the ocean or on ice far from food and mates.