Midnight Migrating Moths
"Now the Lord had said unto Abraham, 'Get thee out of thy country ... unto a land that I will shew thee."
It was a moonless night over England. A specially designed radar picks up something that has never been seen before.
The radar is picking up silver Y moths as they migrate south for the winter. What has never been seen before is evidence that the moths actually navigate very precisely. It doesn't seem to matter whether the stars or moon are out or whether it is a cloudy, moonless night. This, scientists say, is the first evidence of a compass in night-migrating insects.
The special radar, which can track individual moths at altitudes of 500 to 4,000 feet, revealed how precise their navigating skills are. The moths only fly on nights when they can proceed south-southwest. If the wind is blowing in that direction, the moths need to make no course corrections. If the wind is blowing within 20 degrees of south-southwest the moths will very precisely modify their flight direction so that their overall progress is south-southwest. If the wind is more than 20 degrees off the desired direction, the moths don't fly.
Scientists believe that the moths winter somewhere in North Africa. Nocturnal moths that must migrate great distances under only select conditions require very special abilities. But just as God could lead Abram to a land he did not know, He can lead moths thousands of miles through the darkness.
Notes: Science News, 4/5/08, p. 212, Susan Milius, "Night Flights."
Photo: Courtesy of Olaf Leillinger. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license.
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