Moth migration

Ecologist, radar biologist

Some species of insects regularly migrate to the UK each spring from their winter-breeding grounds around the Mediterranean, and they do so by taking advantage of fast-moving airstreams hundreds of metres above the earth.

Silver Y moth

Until recently, we didn’t know if these tiny migrants could influence their migration routes or whether they were at the mercy of the wind. However, studies carried out at Rothamsted Research in Hertfordshire using unique entomological radars provided conclusive answers to questions such as these.

Our radars showed that migratory silver Y moths select the fastest and most favourably directed airstreams, and in this way are able to migrate distances of between 300km and 400km per night, flying at speeds of more than 50km per hour between their summer-breeding and winter-breeding regions. 

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