Sunday, August 23, 2009

Mating vortex!

Better yellow butterfly sex_thumb[1] The monsoon has returned briefly, and this morning it was incredibly humid before dawn. The air was literally filled with small flying bugs as I began my walk. A woman I encountered had taken off her hat and was using it to swat them away from her mouth.

The bugs—flying ants, as we used to call them—were headed for one of several vortices, like very high dust devils, made up entirely of mating bugs. I Googled this and found an excellent description with amazing pictures on the “Tortoise Trails” blog, which is written by a fellow Tucsonan named Pam: Flying Ants. I strongly recommend reading this. In it, Pam explains how these mating vortices form, and what happens to the ants afterward.  (Hint: they couple and fall to the ground still mating; I saw gazillions of them on the ground under one of the big swarms.)

I have no pictures of my own on this, so instead have given you a photo of butterflies getting it on, from last year.


  1. Amazing. I never heard of this either. Maybe it's like a microburst of insects. ;-) Thanks for sharing. We are meling in NYC.

  2. I have personally run into these vortice of mating insects while driving thru AZ in the morning...I didn't realize I was messing up so much love making. They do make a mess whe they smack the windshield.

  3. wonderful stuff.