Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Billion-Bug Highway (Video) *Enormous herd of insects ride the winds above!*


Migrating Monarch Butterflies in North America

Many in North America know of the spring and autumn migration of birds and even monarch butterflies. Birds migrate worldwide. In the insect world, it is not just some butterflies that migrate in different areas of the Earth, it is hundreds, if not thousands, of species of insects that migrate for a variety of reasons. As the weather warms in spring and into summer, a billion-bug highway begins above you as an enormous herd of insects ride the wind.

Up to 3,000 feet altitude, and even much higher, are flies, wasps, beetles, mites, spiders, aphids, termites, midges, butterflies, moths, et. al. which are all riding the wind currents. Lady bugs, a beetle, can be found at 6,000 feet and male gypsy moths are at 10,000 feet! At upwards of 14,000 feet are spiders, floating along on silk threads. The highest altitude ever recorded for an insect was a single termite flying at 19,000 feet altitude!

It is not just the altitudes attained that is surprising about these insects. It is the sheer numbers of insects up in the air which are amazing. A calculation performed by UK scientists utilizing radar estimated that in a .6 (6/10) square mile column of air, there were 3 billion insects passing through this column of air during a typical spring or summer month.

What are these insects doing? Why are all of these insects riding the air currents? They are searching for food, habitat, and mates. Some are migrating as birds do, to warmer climates and breeding grounds as the seasons change.

Travel the Invisible Highway Step outside on a clear day this summer and look up. What do you see? Blue. And maybe a plane or a bird up there, but otherwise ... nothing. Or so you think. It turns out that right above you, totally invisible, is an enormous herd of animal life. There are so many creatures up there, they are so busy, so athletic, so tiny, that we had to fly up and give you a peek.

Globe Skimmer or Wandering Glider (Pantala flavescens) is common around the world
Some of these dragonflies migrate across the ocean from India to the Maldive Islands

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