The harlequin ladybird, an invasive species from Asia, has startled everyone by the speed of its conquest of North America and Europe. But that should come as no surprise considering how well ladybirds can fly.
Lori Lawson Handley of the University of Hull recently identified the flightpaths of almost 9,000 ladybirds in a decade’s-worth of radar records collected at Rothamsted Research in Hertfordshire – insect radar traces vary according to the size, shape, speed and wingbeat of particular species.
Some of the ladybirds flew at 1,100m, where airstreams enable them to travel spectacularly fast – some were clocked exceeding 60kph.
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