Though dragonflies annually migrate south search of warmer waters to lay their eggs, they seem to be doing so in much larger numbers this year, a Virginia Tech expert said. Their swarms have been so large that meteorologists have said they can see masses of the prehistoric-looking insects on weather radars.
“These dragonflies migrate every year, so the fascinating thing is why are people noticing them so much more this year?” asked Sally Entrekin, associate professor of aquatic entomology in the Department of Entomology in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Virginia Tech. “These dragonflies emerge from the water from July through October with peak numbers in September, and begin migrating south. Based on the public observations, there appears to be a lot more dragonflies this year than in previous years.”
Entrekin said the dragonflies could have been waiting for optimal wind conditions to make their southbound migration easier and faster. When these conditions were favorable, greater than normal numbers migrated at once.
Entrekin noted that while this could certainly be possible that the dragonflies were picked up by radar experts, an entomologist would have to collaborative with them to interpret the findings to determine if the radar is actually sensing dragonflies.
Sally Entrekin is an associate professor of aquatic entomology in the Department of Entomology at Virginia Tech. Her current research focuses on how watershed fragmentation, over-consumption of freshwater and contamination from agriculture, urbanization, and resource extraction interact to alter aquatic invertebrate community structure and ecosystem functions in streams and wetlands.
To secure an interview with Sally Entrekin, contact James Mason by email or by phone at 540-231-6826.
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