30 April 2008

How fast and far do moths fly?

It won't be long before this blog will start to incorporate some results of our "butterfly farming" (the black swallowtails should be emerging in a couple weeks). In the meantime, this informative bit from the Telegraph (U.K.):

"Moths... are not at the mercy of the wind but use a sophisticated internal compass which can help them travel up to 400 miles in a single flight... researchers from the UK and Germany have found that the insects can judge the best conditions for flight based on direction and windspeed, selecting the fastest moving layers of atmosphere so, with their own speed of 10mph, can cruise at speeds of up to 55 mph. ...moths only migrate on nights when wind direction is favourable. The most unexpected finding was that moths could compensate when wind direction was off target, suggesting they have a compass..."

It boggles the mind (my mind, at least) to contemplate that a creature with a brain the size of the period at the end of this sentence can navigate between continents, judging windspeeds and wind direction. I know the monarchs are heading my way from Mexico - but how they do it just leaves me stunned.

What an amazing world we live in.

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