Antarc­tica’s big­gest land an­i­mal is an in­sect

Science Illustrated - - ANTARCTICA -

True ter­res­trial crea­tures – species that spend all their lives on dry land – are scarce in Antarc­tica. The big­gest one is a small, wing­less midge, which grows 6 mm long. It is also the only in­sect in Antarc­tica. Midges live short, hec­tic adult lives (10 days) in mid­sum­mer af­ter two years as lar­vae un­der the ice. They pro­tect them­selves against the cold by ac­cu­mu­lat­ing sug­ars in their cells that pre­vent ice for­ma­tion. The midges are so wellad­justed to the cold that they die if tem­per­a­tures rise above 10 °C.

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