Marine free living copepods can survive harsh periods and cope with seasonal fluctuations in environmental conditions using resting eggs (embryonic dormancy). Laboratory experiments show that temperature is the common driver for resting egg production. Hence, we hypothesize (i) that seasonal temperature variation, rather than variation in food abundance is the main driver for the occurrence of the resting eggs strategy in marine and estuarine copepod species; and (ii) that the thermal boundaries of the distribution determine where resting eggs are produced and whether they are produced to cope with warm or cold periods. We compile literature information on the occurrence of resting egg production and relate this to spatio-temporal patterns in sea surface temperature and chlorophyll a concentration obtained from satellite observations. We find that the production of resting eggs has been reported for 42 species of marine free living copepods. Resting eggs are reported in areas with high seasonal variation in sea surface temperature (median range 11°C). Temporal variation in chlorophyll a concentrations, however, seems of less importance. Resting eggs are commonly produced to cope with both warm and cold periods and, depending on the species, they are produced at the upper or lower thermal boundaries of a species’ distribution.