Watch This: The Billion-Bug Highway You Can’t See

How insects travel vast distances high in the sky 


A few years back, NPR put together this fantastic animation about British scientist Jason Chapman’s research on high-flying insects.

His discovered that on a typical summer month in Britain, more than three billion insects fly over your head — one for almost every two humans on Earth. Closer to the equator, the figure rises to more than six billion — an almost one-to-one ratio.

Their light weight means they can be easily carried in bubbles of warm air rising from the surface. These bubbles rise high into the sky, carrying insects up into the jet stream, where they can rise even further — as high as almost six kilometres.

They’re not harmed by the experience either. Of 1,610 insects captured by a team of scientists led by L.R. Taylor in 1960, 97 percent were alive and undamaged, 2 percent were alive and damaged, and 1 percent were dead.

For the full story, check out this article by Robert Krulwich on NPR’s Krulwich Wonders blog, and watch the great animation above.


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