Tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis and now . . . bugnadoes! In the great state of Iowa, a swirling vortex of insects was spotted (and videotaped) above a cornfield. This is not a drill, people.
A buzzy article from LiveScience helps to explain the phenomenon, which, thankfully, isn't all that common. Professional storm chaser and photographer Mike Hollingshead caught the bugnado on video on July 4. He uploaded the clip to the Web, and, not surprisingly, the video has since gone viral. What was it like to see in person? Hollinghshead told Life's Little Mysteries that the air "looked like it was smoking."
So, what's going on, in layman's terms? The LiveScience piece explains that the bugs in this clip are near the end of their lives and the flight is actually a mating ritual. Joe Kieper, entomologist and executive director of the Virginia Museum of Natural History, spoke with LiveScience.
"This is a mating flight," Kieper said. "The males are trying to impress the females, and the females select a mate." Different pairs hook up in the vortex, which is kind of a dance for bugs looking to score. After the male and female mate, the male dies, and the female lays eggs. She too then dies.
What's amazing is the level of synchronization among the insects. Like a large flock of seagulls, the insects seem to be moving as one. According to an article from WJLA.com, "a bugnado is spawned when heavy rain or floods and optimal temperatures cause insects to hatch en masse, conjuring dense colonies of buglife that ascend into sky-darkening breeding frenzies."
If you're worried about this as a trend, don't. They don't appear often and they aren't dangerous like a real tornado, but they can lead to big-time bug bites and a serious case of the heebie-jeebies.