Difference Between Diapause and Hibernation


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Certain organisms survive the periodic harsh conditions like environmental changes, scarcity of food, temperature changes, etc. by going into a dormant state. It is the state characterized by minimum or no metabolic activity in the body of the organism. Dormancy is a temporary phase in which an animal’s physical activity, growth and development are paused. This helps the organisms to conserve energy by practically being inactive or sleeping through the harsh phase. The kind of dormancy varies from organism to organism. Some go into hibernation state in which animals remain in a dormant state with the fall in temperature. On the other hand, diapause is a state of dormancy mostly seen in insects in which the growth of the insect is suspended for a while.

Let’s learn more about hibernation and diapause and the major difference between them in this section.

Diapause Vs Hibernation


Diapause is often seen in insects during its developmental stages. It is a state in which the development of the organisms stops spontaneously by reduction of metabolic activity. It is a period of suspended development in the growing organisms. It may occur at any stage of development of the insect but it is mostly seen in the pupa stage. Diapause occurs when the level of growth hormones decreases in the body of the organism. Thus, it is similar to hibernation but is marked by a pause in the developmental stages of the organism.


It is a state of minimum metabolic activity in the body of the organism. Hibernation is seasonal and is characterized by low body temperature, lower heart activity, low metabolic rate and so on. It is seen in some endotherms during the wintertime. In this time, the organisms that hibernate go into a state that resembles deep sleep so that their metabolism comes down and they burn less energy. 

In the state of hibernation, the organism slows its breathing, temperature and other vital functions that burn energy. It is mostly a response by the body of organisms to non-availability of food and low temperature. It may last from a few weeks to months. Rodents like groundhogs mostly go into hibernation. Other examples are bears, bats, ground squirrels, etc. To hibernate, animals have to eat as much as possible. They eat more and build extra fat layers so that these fat layers are broken down in the hibernation state to survive.

Difference Between Diapause and Hibernation




Diapause is a state of temporary dormancy marked by the pause in the growth and development of an organism, mostly insects.

Hibernation is the state of the metabolic slowdown of an organism to withstand extreme conditions mostly during the winter.


Takes place both in summer and winter which means it may occur at any time of the year.

Hibernation occurs as a result of harsh environmental conditions and scarcity of food which happens more during winters.


The amount of free water reduces.

No such type of adaptation is seen in hibernation.


Temperature does not lower down to a greater extent.

Temperature is lowered as opposed to diapause and it may go down up to 0֯ C.

State Of

It is marked as a dormant stage in the nourishment and development of an organism.

It is a state of inactivation in mature ectothermic organisms.

Reason for Happening

The development of species is postponed to survive with unfavourable conditions that include scarcity of growth hormones owing to day and night schedules.

Helps animals survive harsh winters by getting them into a deep sleep and slowing down the rate at which the body burns energy.


Seen in insects such as monarch butterflies and the embryos of many oviparous species of fishes go into diapause.

Occurs in mammals like California pocket mouse, kangaroo mouse, bears, bats, squirrels, different species of birds, some reptiles, etc.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Q1. What is the Basic Difference Between Diapause and Hibernation?

Ans: Hibernation is the state of the metabolic slowdown of an organism to withstand extreme conditions mostly during the winter. Whereas, Diapause is a temporary state dormancy marked by the pause in the growth and development of an organism mostly insects. Rodents, kangaroos, bears, bats, etc. go into hibernation. Diapause is a phase mostly shown by insects like butterflies.

Q2. When Does Diapause Occur?

Ans: Diapause is irrespective of climate. It occurs in summer as well as winters. Since it mostly occurs during the developmental stages of insects, it may take place throughout the year. Climatic conditions do not play much important role in the occurrence of diapause as much as the scarcity of growth hormones. It is mostly seen in the pupa stage of development in insects.

Q3. Can a Hibernating Animal be Woken Up Abruptly?

Ans: Hibernating animals remain oblivious to their surroundings. They are in a state of deep sleep when they reserve as much as energy to survive the harsh environmental conditions and scarcity of food. They slow down their metabolic rate and body temperature. So, it is practically not possible to wake an animal up from hibernation without causing it life-threatening damage. Thus, if you’re to wake up a hibernating animal, it will be as good as killing it.