Are there bugs that live in the snow?

An ice crawler..on ice! ALEX WILD


Most people might assume that bugs aren’t active outside during the winter because we rarely see them, but the truth is much cooler! While many bugs will sleep through the winter (often as eggs), others remain active during most of the season in an unexpected place: below the snow! Although very cold, snow forms a cozy blanket that creates a space right near the soil that is actually warmer than the air above. This warm space gives insects a place to live during the cold winter days, and many of them will climb up onto the tops of the snowbank to look for food if the weather is warm enough. One group of insects that does this is particularly neat, and they are known as ice crawlers! These are flightless and sometimes even eyeless bugs that are as distinct a group as butterflies and beetles. They live high up on mountain snowfields, and they love nothing more than the chilly weather very close to the freezing point that is common in October and April or May. This group was actually discovered here in Alberta, making them a point of great pride for us Alberta bug lovers!

This article originally ran in Nature Alberta Magazine - Winter 2023.