Ice Crawlers

Even at the most extreme and coldest of environments, you will find insects. The Grylloblattodea family of insects are known as “ice crawlers,” and they live on the crest of mountains or on glaciers where snow pack is normally found year round. Ice crawlers are wingless, and most either do not have eyes or their vision is much reduced. The name “Grylloblattodea” means a cross between a cricket and a cockroach, which is what they looked like to EM Walker, a mountaineer who discovered ice crawlers in 1914. Ice crawlers are mostly nocturnal. These insects have a narrow range of temperatures that they can tolerate; if the temperatures rise above freezing or fall below minus 20 degrees, most will perish. Given these limitations, ice crawlers are very dependent on snow cover to regulate their temperature. They are carrion eaters, and also feed on plants that are found in these elevations as well as particles of detritus that are carried upslope with wind currents. Many insect experts (entomologists) consider seeing an ice crawler in person as the holy grail of entomology.

Article by FCFCDB

Header photo credit: - Marshal Hedin

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