Living With Insect Swarms

Doppler Swarm

Screen Shot Of NOAA Twitter Feed (NWS New Orleans) for 5/29/2-016

NOAA’s National Weather Service uses doppler radar to track thunderstorms and other weather events. Interpretation of Doppler Signals are made empirically. The doppler signal is matched to simultaneous events on the ground. This enables weather forecasters to differential weather events from non-weather events.

Many flying objects appear on doppler radar including swarms of birds, bats and insects. On Sunday May 29,2016, NWS, New Orleans picked up an unidentified non-weather doppler signal. Birds and bats have been discounted, so insect swarms are the most likely possibility. What insects are swarming? Formosan termites have been seen swarming in large numbers around New Orleans since early May. Every spring, winged termite reproductives are produced. A male and a female will pair, mate and try to establish a colony. Most attempts are unsuccessful but large numbers of attempts ensure some survival. Unusually large swarms this year are possibly making an appearance on doppler radar. Numbers of termites and conditions may have been favorable for termites to appear on the radar.  Doppler radar images may be useful to insect biologists who study termite swarms.

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is an Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
This entry was posted in behavior, by jjneal, Environment, News. Bookmark the permalink.

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