Journal of thermal biology
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Overwintering insects cannot feed, and energy they take into winter must therefore fuel energy demands during autumn, overwintering, warm periods prior to resumption of development in spring, and subsequent activity. Insects primarily consume lipids during winter, but may also use carbohydrate and proteins as fuel. Because they are ectotherms, the metabolic rate of insects is temperature-dependent, and the curvilinear nature of the metabolic rate-temperature relationship means that warm temperatures are disproportionately important to overwinter energy use. This energy use may be reduced physiologically, by reducing the slope or elevation of the metabolic rate-temperature relationship, or because of threshold changes, such as metabolic suppression upon freezing. Insects may also choose microhabitats or life history stages that reduce the impact of overwinter energy drain. There is considerable capacity for overwinter energy drain to affect insect survival and performance both directly (via starvation) or indirectly (for example, through a trade-off with cryoprotection), but this has not been well-explored. Likewise, the impact of overwinter energy drain on growing-season performance is not well understood. I conclude that overwinter energetics provides a useful lens through which to link physiology and ecology and winter and summer in studies of insect responses to their environment.