26 • 11 • 2012

When Snow Mosquitoes Dance and Harvestmen Perish

Weather conditions are favourable enough this autumn for many surface invertebrates to remain noticeably active. During the warmest hours of the day, you can easily stumble upon arachnids, brown centipedes, millipedes, rough woodlouses, snails and, of course, insects. You will not spot any butterflies, but moths are still active. Water bodies are also full of lively invertebrates and their numbers will not go down throughout the entire winter.

Snow mosquitoes, insects with the fondest of feelings for cold weather conditions, have already hatched and turned into adults. They dance through the remainder of this autumn and the upcoming winter. With temperatures above zero and unhindered by precipitation, they will leave their hideouts, spread their wings and bunch up.


Harvestmen are among the cold-hardiest Latvian surface invertebrates. They are not spiders, although they belong to arachnids. Harvestmen are fonder of darkness than daylight. At the moment, these fragile, long-legged animals sit somewhere or crawl around. They are ready to mate in late autumn and males die shortly thereafter. Females live on to lay eggs and only then depart, just like every autumn. Only the eggs will survive the winter.

It is safe to say that most nesting birds have left Latvia and the overall number of birds has shrunk remarkably. However, birds are the most noticeable animals in the autumn. Even adverse weather conditions cannot affect their activity – most of these birds are passing through the country or wandering around. Some tardy migratory birds can also be spotted occasionally.

Hazel grouses, partridges, black grouses, wood grouses, various woodpeckers and crested tits consistently stay in Latvia. Corvids are particularly laud and noticeable, especially jays, ravens, crows, magpies and (slightly less often) nutcrackers this autumn. Regarding the smallest birds, there are quite a few bullfinches, shrikes, various species of tits, nuthatches, tree-creepers, long-tailed tits and goldcrests. Among daytime birds of prey, buzzards and white tailed eagles can be seen most frequently. Goshawks stir the air once in a while as well.

Several species of owls will also spend the winter in forests and elsewhere in Latvia’s nature. Tawny owls are already wandering around, looking for spring nesting places. Owls tend to stockpile food supplies. They hunt down more than they can eat and stash away their supplies in tree hollows.

Various ducks, gulls, whooper and mute swans and coots look for food and safety in water. There is still hope to see passing geese. Even though most of them have already passed Latvia, their voices in the skies are still quite common.