Navigation Links
Migrating insects fly in the fast lane
Date:2/4/2010

A study published today in Science, by researchers at Rothamsted Research (an institute of the BBSRC), the Met Office, the Natural Resources Institute, and the Universities of Exeter, Greenwich and York, sheds new light on the flight behaviours that enable insects to undertake long-distance migrations, and highlights the remarkable abilities of these insect migrants.

Many insects avoid cold British winters by migrating south in autumn to over-wintering sites around the Mediterranean. Migrant insects then return to the UK in spring. How such small insects undertake journeys of several thousands of kilometres has long fascinated scientists.

The reported study was funded by BBSRC and used two sets of specially-designed radar equipment to observe migrating butterflies and moths flying several hundreds of metres above the ground, and to describe the sophisticated flight behaviours that they have evolved. These insect migrants have a compass sense that enables them to select winds which will take them in their chosen direction, and to travel at speeds of up to 100 km per hour. The fast speeds of winds aloft mean that insects travel more-or-less downwind, but they make subtle adjustments to their headings so that they partially correct for wind-induced drift away from their preferred direction of travel.

Dr Chapman said "Migratory butterflies and moths have evolved an amazing capacity to use favourable tailwinds. By flying at the heights where the wind currents are fastest, migratory moths can travel between their summer and winter grounds in just a few nights".

Dr Hill said "We estimate that over 2 billion insects were involved in the mass migration events that we studied. These insect migrants are clearly very successful."

The study used a computer model dubbed "NAME" to demonstrate that the flight behaviours observed result in migrants travelling nearly twice as far and closer to their preferred direction as an insect just randomly drifting downwind. Many migratory insects are pests of agricultural crops, so the model will be useful for predicting migration events in the future.

Ms Burgin said "We combined the results from the radar measurements of moth flight with the outputs of a model of atmosphere motion to show that by hitchhiking on suitable winds, insects can travel at greater speeds than many migrating birds, which is important given the short lifespan of insects."

This study illustrates how insects successfully undertake long-distance migrations in favourable directions. Climate change is likely to significantly alter the frequency of insect migrants, including introducing some agricultural pests that are completely new to the UK. Thus, a better understanding of their migration strategies is increasingly crucial in helping to secure food supplies in the long term.


'/>"/>

Contact: Adelia de Paula
adelia.depaula@bbsrc.ac.uk
44-158-276-3133
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology technology :

1. Like an arrow: Jumping insects use archery techniques
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:5/19/2017)... ... May 19, 2017 , ... The University City Science ... technologies ripe for commercialization, and who are affiliated with the 21 partner academic ... proposals. QED, now in its tenth round, is the first multi-institutional proof-of-concept program ...
(Date:5/18/2017)... ... ... Supplies Management (“CSM”), a Great Point Partners II (“GPP”) portfolio company, today announced two ... size over the past six months with the acquisition of businesses in Belgium and ... Chief Financial Officer. Roger has over 25 years of experience in finance and ...
(Date:5/18/2017)... ... May 17, 2017 , ... ... device compliance and commercialization, has just released version 9.0 of the Cognition Cockpit ... latest version of Cockpit,” says David Cronin, CEO of Cognition. “We’re thrilled to ...
(Date:5/18/2017)... ... May 17, 2017 , ... G-CON Manufacturing, Inc., the leader ... Maik Jornitz, was recognized as a Top 10 Industry Influencer on The Medicine ... in bettering the pharma industry and bringing life-changing medicines to market” across four ...
Breaking Biology Technology:
(Date:3/22/2017)... , March 21, 2017 Vigilant ... company serving law enforcement agencies, announced today the appointment ... as director of public safety business development. ... law enforcement experience, including a focus on the aviation ... his most recent position, Mr. Sheridan served as the ...
(Date:3/20/2017)... ALLENTOWN, Pa. , March 20, 2017 ... PD 2.0 personal spirometer and Wellness Management System (WMS), ... Founded in 2010, PMD Healthcare is a ... Company with a mission dedicated to creating innovative solutions ... of life. With that intent focus, PMD developed the ...
(Date:3/13/2017)... 2017 Future of security: Biometric Face Matching software  ... ... DERMALOGs Face Matching enables to match face pictures against each other or ... individuals. (PRNewsFoto/Dermalog Identification Systems) ... "Face Matching" is the fastest software for biometric Face Matching on the market. ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):