Did you know insects also like to go on vacation?


Every year, millions of tiny 3mm insects called brown planthoppers [1] fly over a thousand kilometres from warmer areas of China to cooler climates in Japan, where they could damage up to 60% of rice crops.

But how can these tiny insects fly such long distances over oceans? It’s simple, they fly vertically upward with the help of rising warm air, rather like paragliders, then they hitch rides on fast moving airstreams at high altitudes, associated with annual monsoon winds [2,3].

In the same way, every year, billions of larger moths and butterflies migrate from the Mediterranean basin to northern Europe and back again [4] taking advantage of seasonal air currents.

[1] Nilaparvata lugens
[2] Rosenberg & Magor (1983) Flight duration of the brown planthopper, Nilaparvata lugens (Homoptera: Delphacidae). Ecological Entomology. Volume 8, Issue 3, pp 341-350
[3] Kisimoto R (1971) Long-distance migration of planthoppers, Sogatella furcifera and Nilaparvata lugens. Symposium on rice insects. Tropical Agriculture. Research. Centre Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Japan, pp 201–216
[4] Lundmark C (2010) Long-distance Insect Migration, BioScience. Volume 60, Issue 5, pp 400