Every year, insects migrate across the English Channel and North Sea. The place of origin and the destination of these migrations are largely unknown. Although researchers have been studying these migrations for more than a decade, this mass movement of insects remains unnoticed by the general population.
It is only recently that scientists have measured the numbers of these insects that fly through the English Skies and it was found that these flying insects number is staggering, 3.5 trillion to be exact.
Studies have shown that larger insects migrate to the north during springtime. And during autumn, they move back south. In contrast, small insects seem to migrate with the prevailing winds.
The larger insects were observed to be actively flying and were clocked to be travelling between 30 to 60 kilometers an hour. These insects are capable of covering more than 200 kilometers in just a matter of hours.
Researchers from the University of Exeter and Rothamsted used specialized radar techniques to measure 3,200 tons of biomass flying over the UK each year, seven times more mass than 30 million migratory songbirds that migrate from the UK to Africa during the winter.
Science Daily reports that this high-altitude mass migration is significant and may be the most important annual animal movement.
According to Dr. Jason Chapman from the University of Exeter's Centre for Ecology and Conservation, the movement of this biomass is important to the ecosystem as insect bodies are rich in nutrients.
Dr. Gao Hu, a guest researcher from Nanjing University, China, stated that these insects are essential in maintaining healthy ecosystems. The insects are vital to pollination, crop pest predation, and an important food source for birds and bats.