Can Insects Survive High Altitudes?

Can Insects Survive High Altitudes?

Insects Can Survive High Altitudes: Fact

We’re accustomed to seeing our fair share of insects at ground level, but could they adapt to survive in higher altitudes? Let’s find out in this month’s fact or fake.

Like humans, insects are highly dependent on oxygen to supply their energy needs, so operating at high altitudes could prove troublesome due to decreased air levels. But oxygen isn’t the only determining factor. At higher altitudes, temperatures are colder, and insects unable to regulate their body temperature run the risk of their bodies simply shutting down. Most are surprised to discover that above us there’s an insect interstate of various critters floating and flying high in the sky, and more impressively, surviving.

Researchers have discovered during summer months there could be as many as three billion insects passing overhead at high altitudes. How do they do it you might ask? By catching updrafts of wind, insects like butterflies, spiders, aphids and more, can ride these currents into the atmosphere. Some do it as a travel resource to relocate to new areas for food, space and mating opportunities.

Tests by researchers have found insects as high as 19,000 feet that have adapted their breathing and flying techniques to survive for prolonged periods. They also found colonies of bumblebees and even a species of jumping spider on Mount Everest, the highest peak in the world, that have adapted to living in high altitudes with less oxygen and colder temperatures. Wow!

If you need help addressing your insect concerns at ground level, contact your local Orkin professional for a free estimate and to customize a plan that’s right for you.

“Look Up! The Billion-Bug Highway You Can’t See” NPR
“How High Can Insects Fly?” LiveScience