Magazine article USA TODAY

Utilizing the Earth's Magnetic Field

Magazine article USA TODAY

Utilizing the Earth's Magnetic Field

Article excerpt

Certain nocturnally migrating insects can explore and navigate using the Earth's magnetic field, according to an intemational study led by researchers from Sweden's Lund University. Until now, the ability to steer flight using an internal magnetic compass only was known in nocturnally migrating birds.

"Our findings are the first reliable proof that nocturnally active insects can use the Earth's magnetic field to guide their flight when migrating over 1,000 kilometers. We show that insects probably use the Earth's magnetic field in a similar way to birds:' says Eric Warrant, professor in the Department of Biology.

Warrant and Lund researcher David Dreyer--together with colleagues from Australia, Canada, Germany, and the U.S.--studied the moth species Agrotis infusa, also known as the Bogong moth, in Australia.

The researchers believe that moths in northern Europe may use the Earth's magnetic field in an equivalent manner when flying over the Alps to the Mediterranean. …

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