New Study Shows that Trillions of Bugs Migrate over Britain Each Year


According to scientists, the trillions of migrating insects that migrate over Britain every year, offer many services to mankind.

This amount of migrating insects equates to a combined total of 3,200 tons- around 636 elephants.

Approximately three and a half trillion insects typically migrate over southern Britain, according to a study recently published in the journal Science. This equates to more than 54 bugs for every person in Britain.


Scientists from Britain, China and Israel spent almost 10 years tracking insect migration patterns at different altitudes (between 492 and 3,937 feet) using entomological radar and an aerial insect-catching net.

“High-altitude aerial migration of insects is enormous,” University of Exeter entomologist and co-author Jason Chapman said. “These aerial flows are an unappreciated aspect of terrestrial ecosystems, equivalent to the oceanic movements of plankton which power the oceanic food chains.”

However, the massive amount of bugs migrating was not the only surprising piece of discovery from the study.

The study also found that insects migrate north and south seasonally, just like birds do. According to Ars Technica reports, they also found that they could reach speeds between 18 and 37 miles per hour, by picking wind directions that blew them in the right direction.


It is odd to think that that many bugs could migrate over Britain without anyone noticing.  However, scientists say that the vast majority of these insects are really small, such as the marmalade hoverfly. Therefore, it would still be difficult to notice.

Dr. Chapman told NPR: “It’s only about a centimeter long, it’s orange with black stripes, but it’s a hugely abundant migrant, and it actually does some very important jobs” such as pollinating crops and wildflowers.”

Scientists also say that this quantity of insects is “modest” in comparisons to other regions in the world. Chapman tells the Los Angeles Times, that Britain’s migrating insect quantities is “probably close to minimum values.”

While the common view of insects is mainly negative, Chapman tells Reteurs that “we could not function without them.” These insects pollinate plants, feed, birds, and promote healthy soil.