Total Eclipse: A Once-in-a-Lifetime Festival of Science, Music, and Celestial Wonder. August 19–21, 2017 in Eastern Oregon.

Fleeting Wonders: Winter’s Toughest Bugs Have Antifreeze Blood

A snow fly does its thing.

A snow fly does its thing. (Photo: D. Sikes/Flickr)

It’s winter. You’re cold, you can’t get anywhere, everything smells like road salt, and shoveling is both mandated and dangerous. At least there aren’t any bugs around, right?

Wrong! Chionea, commonly known as the “snow fly,” is a type of crane fly that lives on snow. Not only that—like many animals that have adapted to colder climes, it thrives there, speed-walking on snow crust and drinking melted ice through its proboscis. Snow flies even have glycerol (essentially antifreeze) thickening up their hemolymph (basically bug blood) to keep them from becoming tiny, long-legged Han Solos.

Science has described about 40 species of snow fly in the northern hemisphere, but there are also probably more! Keep your eyes peeled for this winter wonder on your next trip out for provisions.

Every day, we track down a fleeting wonder—something amazing that’s only happening right now. Have a tip for us? Tell us about it! Send your temporary miracles to [email protected].