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Ocean-Crossing Dragonflies Discovered 95

grrlscientist writes "While living and working as a marine biologist in Maldives, Charles Anderson noticed sudden explosions of dragonflies at certain times of year. He explains how he carefully tracked the path of a plain, little dragonfly called the Globe Skimmer, Pantala flavescens, only to discover that it had the longest migratory journey of any insect in the world."
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Ocean-Crossing Dragonflies Discovered

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  • TED (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @09:58PM (#30678414)
  • Re:Impressive... (Score:5, Informative)

    by wizardforce (1005805) on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @10:10PM (#30678492) Journal

    TFA has a video that explains quite a bit about the species and one of the interesting things about it is that the dragonfly cruses at an altitude of 1-2 km over the surface. They migrate in order to catch the rainy season of East Africa and India. The winds at this altitude move toward the rainy areas due to meteorological effects so they do make use of air currents.

  • Re:Impressive... (Score:4, Informative)

    by tirerim (1108567) on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @10:26PM (#30678610)
    Uh, that would be about 1.5 days—there are 86,400 seconds in a day. That's assuming that they maintain their maximum flight speed the whole time, of course.
  • Re:Impressive... (Score:5, Informative)

    by edman007 (1097925) on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @10:47PM (#30678766)

    When you are small and light it is not actually required that you expel energy to float, the turbulence in the air can keep you going to a very long time for example water can stay in a cloud long enough to become softball sized hail and a glider can stay in the air all day, the energy is technically wind energy derived from solar and it is not coming from the object flying.

  • Re:Name (Score:5, Informative)

    by edman007 (1097925) on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @10:52PM (#30678804)

    According to the wikipedia:

    Pantala flavescens, the Globe Skimmer or Wandering Glider, is a wide-ranging dragonfly of the family Libellulidae. This species and Pantala hymenaea, the "Spot-winged Glider", are the only members of the genus Pantala from the subfamily Pantalinae. It was first described by Fabricius in 1798.[1] It is considered to be the most widespread dragonfly on the planet.

    The English common names "Wandering Glider" and "Globe Skimmer" refer to its migratory behaviour.[3] The German name Wanderlibelle mean "migrant dragonfly". In Hong Kong, its name translates as Typhoon Dragonfly as it arrives with or shortly before the seasonal rain. []

    It seems to me that it has been known that it just seems to "show up" at specific times of the year and does migrate, but nobody knew just how far it really did migrate.

  • Re:Impressive... (Score:2, Informative)

    by osu-neko (2604) on Thursday January 07, 2010 @04:37AM (#30680324)

    Then again the maximum speed is almost certainly measured without any wind.

    Or rather, it's an airspeed, which is measured relative to the surrounding air, and is thus unaffected by wind speed. Your speed relative to the ground can be greatly affected by wind, but your airspeed tends to be the same regardless of the wind.

  • Re:Impressive... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Oligonicella (659917) on Thursday January 07, 2010 @10:02AM (#30682440)
    They can do 30mph pretty much all day. They are the most efficient flier amongst the insects.

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