Bug Trails

October 30, 2009

20091031 – Saturday - Bug Trails

Photographer: Bill Webb
Summary Authors:
Bill Webb; Jim Foster

October 2009 Earth Science Picture of the Day Viewer's Choice

The spirals, stitches and coils seen above are actually insects flying in front of a large floodlight. The "barbs" on the flight paths are the individual wingbeats captured during the two-second exposure. Some bugs and moths seem to be attracted to bright lights because they often rely on the brightest nightlight of all, the Moon, for orientation. According to recent theory, some animals and many night flying insects use transverse orientation to attempt to keep a steady angle in relation to a light source. As they fly, they move closer each time they change position. These hapless critters thus fritter away the hours until dispersed by dawn or freed from this incandescent grip by a flip of a switch. In Shakespeare’s play The Merchant of Venice, the phrase “moths to a flame” referred to someone who was likely to be tempted by something that would lead to their downfall. Photo taken near Hurst, Texas on the night of September 19, 2009.