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You Can Fly how long?

March 25th, 2016

You Can Fly how long?

Researchers have just discovered the insect that makes the longest trek away from home when they migrate for the winter. The winner is under two inches long, has transparent wings…and is a dragonfly, specifically the Pantala flavescens, aka the wandering glider. These little guys travel an incredible 4,400 miles or more, traveling over oceans and to completely different countries.

The main issue insects have to deal with when flying over large distances is conserving energy. The clever wandering glider dragonfly has learned to rely on their enlarged wing base to allow them to hitch a ride on strong, shifting seasonal wind. This means that they don’t have to constantly expend energy to actively fly from one location to another. They can glide on weather currents for extraordinary distances.

However, one would think this is difficult considering dragonflies need freshwater to reproduce, making traveling across oceans seem like a bad idea. But, the wandering glider dragonfly has adapted its migration schedule to account for this. They actually follow shifting rainfall patterns so they can reproduce in freshwater rain pools throughout the year. And how do they account for food on these long trips? They’ve adapted to eating aerial plankton and other small insects while they are flying. Talk about catching a meal on the go.

What do you think of this incredible ability of the wandering glider dragonfly to travel such large distances and even over oceans? Are you impressed yet, or do they need to have supernatural powers too?

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