Migrating insects are everywhere, although we don’t pay much attention to them because we are too busy admiring larger insects or animals. However, recent research has revealed that over three million insects migrate to south-central England every year.
According to entomologist Jason Chapman at the University of Exeter, it is true that England is quite damp and cold, but it is the ideal environment for many migrating insects in the spring. Chapman says that you can repeat this survey in many areas of the world, and you would still get the same results.
Besides the monarch butterfly and few other species, migrating insects have never been included in a comprehensive study. Experts who study the patterns of migration among animal species have mostly focused on large mammals, like the wildebeests, or birds, such as the Artic tern.
Chapman underlines that the scientists have left insects aside, even if they are equally important. He explains that these insects can represent either a threat or a blessing. For instance, the marmalade hoverfly is one of the most important migrating insects on the planet.
This tiny bug is just 1 cm long, it is orange and it has black stripes on its body. According to Chapman, the marmalade hoverfly eats aphids which can become devastating pests, and it is a very efficient pollinator.
More precisely, this hoverfly pollinates wildflowers and crops. It spends the winter in the warm fields around the Mediterranean, but it migrates back to England in the spring. Chapman and his team have been monitoring the migration of such insects for roughly a decade.
The researchers are surprised that such small insects can travel at great speed. Also, they fly for hundreds of miles in just one flight. Another interesting fact is that these migrating insects fly during the day, and most likely rest during the night.
Chapman’s hope is that many scientists across the world will begin studying the migrating insects. Also, by joining their efforts, they will be able to create a map of the insects’ migration, carrying not just nutrients but also diseases.
Hugh Dingle, a specialist on animal migration from the University of California, says that Chapman’s team has conducted an impressive study. Dingle is not surprised by the sheer number of insects, but he confesses that little has been known about these insects’ behavior during the migration.