A small dragonfly is found to be the world's longest-distance flyer

March 2, 2016
The body and wings of the dragonfly Pantala flavescens have evolved in a way that lets the insect glide extraordinary distances on weather currents. Credit: Greg Lasley

A dragonfly barely an inch and a half long appears to be animal world's most prolific long distance traveler - flying thousands of miles over oceans as it migrates from continent to continent - according to newly published research.

Biologists at Rutgers University-Newark (RU-N) who led the study - which appears in the journal PLOS ONE - say the evidence is in the genes. They found that populations of this dragonfly, called Pantala flavescens, in locations as far apart as Texas, eastern Canada, Japan, Korea, India, and South America, have genetic profiles so similar that there is only one likely explanation. Apparently - somehow - these insects are traveling distances that are extraordinarily long for their small size, breeding with each other, and creating a common worldwide gene pool that would be impossible if they did not intermingle.

"This is the first time anyone has looked at genes to see how far these insects have traveled," says Jessica Ware, an assistant professor of biology on the faculty of RU-N's College of Arts and Sciences and senior author of the study. "If North American Pantala only bred with North American Pantala, and Japanese Pantala only bred with Japanese Pantala," Ware says, "we would expect to see that in genetic results that differed from each other. Because we don't see that, it suggests the mixing of genes across vast geographic expanses."

But how do insects from different continents manage to meet and hook up? These are not large birds or whales that one would expect to travel thousands of miles. Ware says it appears to be the way their bodies have evolved. "These have adaptations such as increased surface areas on their wings that enable them to use the wind to carry them. They stroke, stroke, stroke and then glide for long periods, expending minimal amounts of energy as they do so."

Dragonflies, in fact, have already been observed crossing the Indian Ocean from Asia to Africa. "They are following the weather," says Daniel Troast, who analyzed the DNA samples in Ware's lab while working toward his master's degree in biology, which he earned at the university in 2015. "They're going from India where it's dry season to Africa where it's moist season, and apparently they do it once a year."

Moisture is a must for Pantala to reproduce, and that, says Ware, is why these insects would be driven to even attempt such a perilous trip, which she calls a "kind of suicide mission." The species depends on it. While many will die en route, as long as enough make it, the species survives.

Flight patterns appear to vary. The hardiest of the dragonflies might make the trip nonstop, catching robust air currents or even hurricane winds and gliding all the way. Others may, literally, be puddle jumpers. Pantala need fresh water to mate and lay their eggs - and if while riding a weather current they spot a fresh water pool created by a rainstorm - even on an island in the middle of a vast ocean - Ware and Troast say it's likely they dive earthward and use those pools to mate. After the eggs hatch and the babies are mature enough to fly - which takes just a few weeks - the new dragonflies join the swarm's intercontinental and now multi-generational trek right where their parents left off.

For the moment, the details of this extraordinary insect itinerary are an educated best guess, as are specific routes these migrations might take. Much more work is needed to bring many loose ends together. But now that their work has established a worldwide population of intermingling dragonflies, Ware and Troast hope that scientists can work on plotting those routes in earnest. They would need to be innovative, because tracking devices that can be attached to larger animals are far too big to put on insects.

What the Rutgers scientists have discovered puts this dragonfly far ahead of any identified insect competitor. "Monarch butterflies migrating back and forth across North America were thought to be the longest migrating insects," traveling about 2,500 miles each way, says Troast, "but Pantala completely destroys any migrating record they would have," with its estimated range of 4,400 miles or more. It also exceeds Charles Lindbergh's celebrated solo flight from New York to Paris by at least several hundred miles.

Pantala leaves many of its fellow dragonflies even farther behind. The mysteries of evolution are such that while Pantala and its cousin the Green Darner (Anax junius) have developed into world travelers, Ware says that by contrast, other members of the family "don't ever leave the pond on which they're born - traveling barely 36 feet away their entire lives."

Explore further: Of dragonflies and dinosaurs: Researchers map insect origins, evolution

More information: Daniel Troast et al. A Global Population Genetic Study of Pantala flavescens, PLOS ONE (2016). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0148949

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BartV
1.2 / 5 (18) Mar 02, 2016
The mysteries of evolution are such than...

I don't know why atheist authors always have to try to bring in the unproven fantasy of evolution.
Please stick to real science and observations.
Your minds would be a lot clearer for it, and you could observe with lesser prejudice.

jerromyjon
5 / 5 (20) Mar 02, 2016
The mysteries of evolution are such than...
I don't know why atheist authors always have to try to bring in the unproven fantasy of evolution.

Life evolves. Get over it.
viko_mx
1 / 5 (16) Mar 02, 2016
"I don't know why atheist authors always have to try to bring in the unproven fantasy of evolution."

Because this is politicaly correct. There is no scientific reason for the theory of evolution.
When I ask the supporters of evolution how must work the fictional evolution process in details, no one can answer. Evolutionists are not strong in scientific details. It is very dificult to build a theory that can not rely on scientific facts. In this case for them remains only the option to rely on unscientific matras repeated to infinity.
Phys1
5 / 5 (11) Mar 02, 2016
The mysteries of evolution are such than...

I don't know why atheist authors always have to try to bring in the unproven fantasy of evolution.
Please stick to real science and observations.
Your minds would be a lot clearer for it, and you could observe with lesser prejudice.

Spoken like a true nutter.
Phys1
4.6 / 5 (11) Mar 02, 2016
The mysteries of evolution are such than...
I don't know why atheist authors always have to try to bring in the unproven fantasy of evolution.

Life evolves. Get over it.

Not always true.
BartV / Viko_mx will never evolve.
They are living fossils, like the coelacanth.
baudrunner
5 / 5 (1) Mar 02, 2016
A dragonfly barely an inch and a half long appears to be animal world's most prolific long distance traveler
That should read "most prolific migrating long distance traveler". The wandering albatross can do this.. http://www.dailym...ved.html
antigoracle
5 / 5 (4) Mar 02, 2016
if while riding a weather current they spot a fresh water pool created by a rainstorm - even on an island in the middle of a vast ocean - Ware and Troast say it's likely they dive earthward and use those pools to mate

Wow. Horny little buggers, aren't they and what stamina.
Whydening Gyre
5 / 5 (11) Mar 02, 2016
The mysteries of evolution are such than...

I don't know why atheist authors always have to try to bring in the unproven fantasy of evolution.
As opposed to the unproven fantasy of divine design?
Please stick to real science and observations.

Which are, interestingly enough, building the case for evolution.
Your minds would be a lot clearer for it, and you could observe with lesser prejudice.

My mind is plenty clear (as others are, I'm sure) to see the reality of what happens right in front of them.
Resistance to the concept of change bathed in the full light of evidence - in order to preserve your own comfort level - is the real prejudice...
And it shows your fear.
You've bought the creation story hook, line and sinker...
You get what you paid for - a story.
Whydening Gyre
5 / 5 (11) Mar 02, 2016
There is no scientific reason for the theory of evolution.

What in the heck do you think scientists have been documenting for over 500 years?
When I ask the supporters of evolution how must work the fictional evolution process in details, no one can answer. Evolutionists are not strong in scientific details.

When was the last time you put together a billion (or more) piece puzzle?.
It is very dificult to build a theory that can not rely on scientific facts.

Says the non-scientist.
In this case for them remains only the option to rely on unscientific matras repeated to infinity.

How bout - you explain all the details behind YOUR theory that neither requires nor includes science? Without the "god did it and I will ask no questions" mantra...
torbjorn_b_g_larsson
5 / 5 (7) Mar 03, 2016
"atheist authors".

You don't know that. It is a fact that experience with reality tend to make people non-religious, as would be expected, but according to statistics there is still ~ 7 % religious among the best US scientists (in AAS).

More proof that delusional magic isn't a good alternative. Keep those proof of the irrelevance of your beliefs coming, we all appreciate your childish drooling on these pages! =D
viko_mx
1 / 5 (8) Mar 03, 2016
"What in the heck do you think scientists have been documenting for over 500 years? "

Louis Pasteur who is one of the pioneers of immunology and who created the first vaccines concluded that life comes only from life.
It's not like you just do not throw in the air any general abstract claims without coverage. You need facts and you do not have them in support of evolution. Weak position. Indeed it is realy difficult to defend failed in advance cause.
viko_mx
1 / 5 (9) Mar 03, 2016
Can you explain how can emerge both sexes in the short period of one generation and how have can emerge and evolve hundreds of specific genes related to sex within this short period of time? How can emerge by random events the functionality mother to wear child in the womb, which is associated with major physiological changes in her body and preparing the body for childbirth and breastfeeding infant nine months later? This functionality can be gradually built. It must fuly completed from the beginning to have the be pasible the next generation.

Generally how evolutionists can explain the fictional emergence of a new gene due to random chances, which to be compatible with the old functionality of the organism and does not hinder the harmonious and synchronized work of all organs and systems in it? If changes do more harm (in reality 100%) than good (in reality 0%), then we there is process of degradation rather than evolution.
Anda
5 / 5 (9) Mar 03, 2016
You're pathetic Viko.
Anyway, do you know that creationists are mostly muslims and from the US?
That many religious people accept evolution? Quite everyone in Europe?

From wikipedia (vatican evolution):
" In the 1950 encyclical Humani generis, Pope Pius XII confirmed that there is no intrinsic conflict between Christianity and the theory of evolution, provided that Christians believe that the individual soul is a direct creation by God and not the product of purely material forces.[1] Today, the Church supports theistic evolution(ism), also known as evolutionary creation."
Thirteenth Doctor
5 / 5 (7) Mar 03, 2016
"I don't know why atheist authors always have to try to bring in the unproven fantasy of evolution."

Because this is politicaly correct. There is no scientific reason for the theory of evolution.
When I ask the supporters of evolution how must work the fictional evolution process in details, no one can answer. Evolutionists are not strong in scientific details. It is very dificult to build a theory that can not rely on scientific facts. In this case for them remains only the option to rely on unscientific matras repeated to infinity.


Viko all you do is make accusations and ask for proof. When proof is provided you don't accept it and you ask questions which clearly show you argue from ignorance.

You told me a good while ago that you would bring scientific evidence of a creator. When I asked you to prove it you avoided all my questions in your broken english vigor.
Thirteenth Doctor
5 / 5 (6) Mar 03, 2016
If changes do more harm (in reality 100%) than good (in reality 0%), then we there is process of degradation rather than evolution.


You do realize that the success rate of evolution isn't that great right? Just because we "work" don't mean we work well. Once you get it in your head that in all of our "beautiful" complexity, we are inefficient meatbags. Have you looked inside our bodies? It is a complete mess! This was one of the barriers I had to break through in my 20's to finally accept evolution as true. It is not a random process of millions of miracles, it is a blind process that makes things good enough to work. Read Richard Dawkins 'The Blind Watchmaker'. Brilliant book.
Thirteenth Doctor
5 / 5 (7) Mar 03, 2016
Anyway on topic:

They stroke, stroke, stroke and then glide for long periods, expending minimal amounts of energy as they do so."


I know very little about insects but I find this interesting. It never occurred to me that insects can ride air currents. I guess I just always assumed that riding on wind currents would be too turbulent for insects. Learn something new everyday!

Whydening Gyre
5 / 5 (8) Mar 03, 2016
Can you explain how can emerge both sexes in the short period of one generation and how have can emerge and evolve hundreds of specific genes related to sex within this short period of time?

Who is claiming it happened it ONE generation?
Evolving requires an almost innumerable number of iterations to produce a successful outcome. Each iteration has minute changes that add up to - what we have today. Selection is, admittedly, an ugly part of that process.
We and the world around us are a product of that process. A process happens and leaves a result. At this point in time - we're it.
victoryengineer
5 / 5 (2) Mar 06, 2016
"I don't know why atheist authors always have to try to bring in the unproven fantasy of evolution."

Because this is politicaly correct. There is no scientific reason for the theory of evolution.
When I ask the supporters of evolution how must work the fictional evolution process in details, no one can answer. Evolutionists are not strong in scientific details. It is very dificult to build a theory that can not rely on scientific facts. In this case for them remains only the option to rely on unscientific matras repeated to infinity.


Please tell me you haven't bred.

Every time I see one of your absurd posts it makes me think of the movie Idiocracy, or the cultist Jim Jones. Will you be passing out kool-aid later?
baudrunner
5 / 5 (2) Mar 12, 2016
Louis Pasteur who is one of the pioneers of immunology and who created the first vaccines concluded that life comes only from life.
..which would totally throw out creationism theory, because life cannot be made from the clay of the earth, could it?
jerromyjon
not rated yet Mar 17, 2016
The mysteries of evolution are such than...
I don't know why atheist authors always have to try to bring in the unproven fantasy of evolution.

Life evolves. Get over it.

Not always true.
BartV / Viko_mx will never evolve.
They are living fossils, like the coelacanth.

http://www.smiths...?no-ist=

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