It appears that the creature that can fly for the longest distances is not a robust eagle as we might think, but a tiny dragonfly. Measuring 1.5 inches, the Pantala dragonfly migrates for over 4,400 miles, surpassing the monarch butterfly which previously held the record for 2,500 miles.
Most insects tend to live close to their home, be it a hive, a tree or a swamp. Even the ones that migrate cannot fly for extended periods of time because of their fragile wings. The monarch butterfly has previously amazed scientists with its capacity of migrating from North America to Mexico across a distance of 2,500 miles. However, it was recently discovered that another insect is capable of even more.
Pantala flavescens is a dragonfly which reaches an inch and a half but still features strong wings that take it across an astounding 4,400 miles. Researchers used DNA in order to find out this information, by determining that the dragonfly’s genes are not Japanese Pantala or American Pantala, but rather a mix between the two.
Pantala is part of the Rainpool Gliders family and is commonly known as either the Wandering Glider. Considered the most widespread species of dragonfly on Earth, it was first described back in 1798 by zoologist Johan Christian Fabricius. Pantala inhabits most of the southern hemisphere of our planet, including South America, Africa, Australia, Oceania and Southern Asia, but also parts of the north such as the United States and a small part of Canada.
Mixed DNA pointed towards the fact that these insects did travel large distances around the world. The particularity of the Pantala dragonfly lies in its technique and design because it cannot carry or fuel to power the long voyage. For instance, birds gather up fat before migrating, which ensures their survival until they reach the destination.
Pantala dragonflies rely on the wind to carry them most of the way, from areas influenced by dry seasons to the ones with a rainy season where they can thrive. Sources of freshwater are indispensable for reproducing since the insects must lay their eggs in pools of water. After the babies hatch and grow enough to be able to fly, they join the swarm and fly away.
The new discovery proves us once more the amazing capabilities of animals that are not directly related to their size or power.
Image Source: IP Factly