The Billion-Bug Highway You Can’t See

When you look up in the sky, what do you see besides the blue sky, clouds, the occa­sion­al bird and plane, the Sun, and the Moon? In this whim­si­cal ani­mat­ed video from NPR, we learn about the var­i­ous insects – the wasps, aphids, bee­tles, etc. – that inhab­it the upper lev­els of the tro­pos­phere. What’s incred­i­ble is that in the peak sum­mer months, there are bil­lions of these insects high in the sky, with some cruis­ing at an alti­tude of 19,000 feet, equiv­a­lent to the height of Mount McKin­ley!

For the botanists out there: the title of the video is a lit­tle mis­lead­ing, as the word bug actu­al­ly refers to an insect of the order Hemiptera; to be pre­cise, we have to call it the bil­lion-insect high­way…

High­ly rec­om­mend­ed: the accom­pa­ny­ing NPR sto­ry from Robert Krul­wich.

Eugene Buchko is a blog­ger and pho­tog­ra­ph­er liv­ing in Atlanta, GA. He main­tains a pho­to­blog, Eru­dite Expres­sions, and writes about what he reads on his read­ing blog.

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.