What is the fastest flying insect?
Entomologist Richard Jones answers your wild question.
Strangely, little research has been carried out into the flight speed of insects.
In 1926, an entomologist reckoned on a deer botfly fleeting past at 370m/s. But this computes to 1,330km/h, which is faster than sound and obviously nonsense.
Anecdotal reports detail monarch butterflies keeping up with cars on the highway and dragonflies with light aircraft at 145km/h, but it is difficult to separate out wind speeds here.
Serious measurements have only been taken for a handful of commercially important species, tethered in wind tunnels – such as locusts at 33km/h and the tobacco hornworm hawkmoth at 36km/h.
The best guess so far at a fastest flier is a horsefly: its speed was estimated at 145km/h. If this record is ever beaten, it is likely to be by another fly species.
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