STATES CHRONICLE – Most flying insects usually stay around their home, without flying too far, except if they are migrating. And even if they do fly farther, they need to rest from once in a while. After all, they are very tiny and have small, fragile wings which cannot get them too far.
There is, however, an insect that can fly far although it is only an inch and a half long, the dragonfly Pantala flavescens. According to the latest research, the dragonfly broke the world record for the longest insect flight, more than 4,400 miles which is almost twice as long as the prior record set by the monarch butterfly, which flies about 2,500 miles, when it migrates across North America.
Not only is the dragonfly impressive, but the study is also impressive as it is the first in which researchers used DNA to find how far a dragonfly can travel. How exactly they used DNA to measure that? Well, they didn’t measure the distance per say, but rather saw that the genes of the dragonflies were not pure American Pantala or pure Japanese Pantala, but they were mixed up.
Having mixed DNA meant that the insects travel around the world, and breed with dragonflies from different areas, creating thus a common gene pool worldwide. What makes the long travel of the dragonfly so incredible is that the tiny insect cannot carry much “fuel” to power its trip.
Birds are usually the ones that carry fat so they can power up for the trip. When it comes to the dragonfly, its amazing flight abilities reside more on their body’s design and their technique. They use the wind to carry them, gliding for long periods, so they don’t constantly flap their wings.
The reason they fly for such long distances is that they follow the weather, going from regions with a dry season to regions with a moist season, every year. They also need to be near a freshwater source as they need it for reproduction, laying their eggs in freshwater pools.
Once the eggs hatch and the babies are mature enough to fly, which happened in only a few weeks, they join the swarm and fly away.
All in all, the flight of the dragonfly is pretty impressive for such a small insect, but they do have a certain technique which helps them go on for a long time, without the need to rest.
Image source: www.bing.com