Monday, 25 February 2013

Weather radar catches massive bug swarm - via Tony Lucas

MetService NZ

A vast swarm of bugs that covered much of the northern half of the North Island last night and this morning has been caught on the Metservice weather radar.

MetService didn't know what it was and entomologists were puzzled.

But there was a strong suspicion that it was an unwanted Australian heading home.

One was convinced it was the Tasmanian grass grub and another suspected huge swarm of aphids.

"I have no idea," said Bugman Ruud Kleinpaste.

"I would suggest go up in the air in aeroplane stick out a butterfly net and see what you catch."

He also speculated it could be a dust storm.

Fellow entomologist Stephen Pawson of Scion, a Crown research institute, had a more pragmatic answer; whatever if was, it was large, and it is going to be coming in on the surf at Piha and Muriwai for the next week or so.

Metservice's Peter Kreft said the unknown insects began swarming over the Waikato region about 9pm yesterday.

"They were pushed by the south easterly wind north toward Auckland," he said.

By 7am Friday the massive swarm was out over the Tasman Sea, west of Auckland.

Kreft said the weather service was not sure what it was.

"We strongly suspect the echo is swarms of insects," Metservice said.

"To show up in radar imagery like this, they must be about as large as, and as numerous as, precipitation particles....

"We see this from time to time, but this one is a very good example of it."

Pawson said at a guess the timings favoured Tasmanian grass grub (aphodius tasmaniae), an introduced agricultural pest.


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