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Old 06-18-2018, 02:00 PM
Fotheringay-Phipps Fotheringay-Phipps is offline
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Maximum Flying Altitude for Flies, Mosquitos etc.

I assume these and similar insects can only get up to a certain height, and that anyone whose windows are above that height would not need screens to keep them out.

Is this correct? And if so, what is that height?
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Old 06-18-2018, 02:10 PM
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I would think strong updrafts could take them up fairly high in the sky whether they like it or not...
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Old 06-18-2018, 02:36 PM
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I seem to remember that back when I lived in New York City, apartments above the 6th floor were not furnished with window screens. No central air either as it was the 60's. I was only 17 or so and might be remembering incorrectly.
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Old 06-18-2018, 02:50 PM
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I was on the uppermost floor of the Empire State Building a few years ago and lots of bees could be seen outside the windows. The presence of multiple bees makes me think there must have been a hive up in the sky, and that they would have to descend quite far to find flowers and then ascend home.
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Old 06-18-2018, 02:52 PM
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I seem to remember that back when I lived in New York City, apartments above the 6th floor were not furnished with window screens. No central air either as it was the 60's. I was only 17 or so and might be remembering incorrectly.
I always heard that it was the 5th floor.
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Old 06-18-2018, 03:10 PM
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I assume these and similar insects can only get up to a certain height, and that anyone whose windows are above that height would not need screens to keep them out.

Is this correct? And if so, what is that height?
You mean height above local terrain, or altitude above sea level? Because they seem to do fine in the mountains (well above 10,000 feet)

As far as height above local terrain...there's this. Sounds like some species naturally include 40-foot-high airspace as their stomping grounds. Breezes can take them much higher, but I imagine that's an uncommon thing.
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Old 06-18-2018, 03:15 PM
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Insects will mostly stay where the food is. What I have typically heard is that if you are above the tree level in your area, you are mostly safe from bugs coming in through your window.

The key word there is "mostly". I've heard of people who live 20 or more stories up who have had insects occasionally fly in through their windows. It's nowhere near as common as someone who lives on the 4th floor, but it happens.

Insects have been found up in the 15,000 to 20,000 foot range. At these heights, bugs start running into the same problems that humans do, extreme cold combined with a lack of oxygen.

I don't know what the world record is for insect altitude, but I imagine it's pretty high. Poking around on google, I found that bees have been found at about 20,000 feet on Mt. Everest. Scientists tested the bees in a vacuum chamber and found that they could survive and continue flying at simulated altitudes up to close to 30,000 feet.
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Old 06-18-2018, 03:44 PM
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I work in the Bank of America Plaza, in Atlanta. I've seen insects on the 47 floor window. I didn't think they could get that high, but there you go.
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Old 06-18-2018, 05:21 PM
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Insects will mostly stay where the food is. What I have typically heard is that if you are above the tree level in your area, you are mostly safe from bugs coming in through your window.

.
I was told that when the American settlers first moved west, they could keep food away from flies by hanging it trees. True or myth? No idea.
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Old 06-18-2018, 05:59 PM
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Interesting question the OP poses, and appreicate everybody's feedback. I can say at 8,750' where I have my log cabin in the Sangre de Christo mtns, I often go the whole year without seeing a single mosquito, and I'm covered with old thick forest growth of 100' trees, so the wind really isn't all that strong either.

I do have some flies, only time they are a nuisance is when I'm cooking meat outside. There is a very small moth population about half the size of a dime, that seems to do fine though. I suppose the several dozen bats that come out at dusk spend most of their time feeding off of them, since the mosquito population is almost nil. The few mosquitoes I have seen at this altitude, were slow as hell.

Since where I'm at all of the water is from natural springs and a creek that keeps the water moving, that also is a good deterent not having any standing water for the mosquitoes to lay their eggs in.
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Old 06-18-2018, 06:02 PM
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I was told that when the American settlers first moved west, they could keep food away from flies by hanging it trees. True or myth? No idea.
Wouldn't think so myself. Did they give the reasoning behind that?
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Old 06-18-2018, 06:14 PM
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I work in the Bank of America Plaza, in Atlanta. I've seen insects on the 47 floor window. I didn't think they could get that high, but there you go.
I wonder if updrafts play a role, as well. I know that I've frequently seen spiders in webs just outside of the windows in skyscrapers in Chicago; there must be enough bugs in the vicinity for them to survive and thrive.
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Old 06-18-2018, 07:02 PM
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I was told that when the American settlers first moved west, they could keep food away from flies by hanging it trees. True or myth? No idea.
I thought that was bears.
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Old 06-19-2018, 06:25 AM
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I wonder if updrafts play a role, as well. I know that I've frequently seen spiders in webs just outside of the windows in skyscrapers in Chicago; there must be enough bugs in the vicinity for them to survive and thrive.
Apart from ballooning, AIUI spiders just set up shop wherever they are and hope for the best. Their presence outside high windows doesn't necessarily mean they are surviving and thriving there; they may just land there on a random breeze, build a web, and then shrivel and die over the course of several days for lack of prey.
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Old 06-19-2018, 06:45 AM
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I have seen a fly at about 35,000 feet. He had no trouble flying around the cabin of that plane.
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Old 06-19-2018, 07:35 AM
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I bet if they suddenly decided to depressurize the cabin that no tiny little oxygen mask would descend from the ceiling for him though.
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Old 06-19-2018, 07:45 AM
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There is a very small moth population about half the size of a dime, that seems to do fine though.
I didn't write that right. The small moths actually do have a fairly good population, I misrepresented that with their small size.
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Old 06-19-2018, 09:03 AM
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Apart from ballooning, AIUI spiders just set up shop wherever they are and hope for the best. Their presence outside high windows doesn't necessarily mean they are surviving and thriving there; they may just land there on a random breeze, build a web, and then shrivel and die over the course of several days for lack of prey.
Spiders (& other insects) like the smell of mercaptan (the odor that is added to propane). We'll occasionally see one a few thousand feet up.

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I have seen a fly at about 35,000 feet. He had no trouble flying around the cabin of that plane.
I guess they're occasionally stowaways on other kinds of aircraft, too.
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Old 06-19-2018, 09:14 AM
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Insects have been found at insanely high altitudes:

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Scientists have collected locusts flying at heights of 14,764 feet (4,500 m); true bugs, stoneflies, mayflies, and caddisflies at altitudes over 16,404 feet (5,000 m); and flies and butterflies over 19,685 feet (6,000 m), according to Michael Dillon, a researcher with the Department of Zoology and Physiology at the University of Wyoming.
https://www.livescience.com/55454-ho...sects-fly.html

In addition, they can live at very high altitudes (although they are "only a few feet off the ground" at that altitude)

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Insects can fly and kite at very high altitude. In 2008, a colony of bumble bees was discovered on Mount Everest at more than 5,600 metres (18,400 ft) above sea level, the highest known altitude for an insect. In subsequent tests some of the bees were still able to fly in a flight chamber which recreated the thinner air of 9,000 metres (30,000 ft).[
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Organi..._high_altitude
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Old 06-19-2018, 09:19 AM
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One of the many effects of global warming is that warmer climate threatens malaria spread in Ethiopia and other locales where communities developed above the altitude that shielded them from the mosquitoes that deliver that deadly disease.

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Cool, high-lying areas of Ethiopia hitherto shielded from heat-loving malaria mosquitoes are increasingly exposed to the disease as the climate warms, researchers said.
Most Ethiopians live in the country's highlands, and have long enjoyed natural protection against mosquitoes carrying the malaria-causing parasites Plasmodium falciparum and P. vivax.
But the buffered area has been shrinking since 1981, scientists reported in the journal Environmental Research Letters. About six million people live in the newly-vulnerable regions.
Air temperatures below 18 degrees Celsius prevent development of P. falciparum. The survival threshold for P. vivax is 15 C, according to the research team.
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Old 06-19-2018, 09:24 AM
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I don't think they are unable to fly to a certain elevation, but their search algorithms probably don't include "Go up, up, up!" as an option. If you are flying along randomly, or following some sort of attractive spoor (the smell of blood, poop or extra CO2, depending on your species), and hit a vertical obstacle, you might go up a bit and down a bit, left a bit and right a bit, but you're not going to keep going up, up and up unless you specifically evolved to look for snow leopard poop.
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Old 06-19-2018, 09:45 AM
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Birds that live entirely on insects fly routinely at high enough altitudes that they are only dots in the sky (swifts and swallows), so they must be finding an abundance of flying insects at several hundred feet.
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Old 06-19-2018, 09:55 AM
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Birds that live entirely on insects fly routinely at high enough altitudes that they are only dots in the sky (swifts and swallows), so they must be finding an abundance of flying insects at several hundred feet.
I live entirely on cheeseburgers and beer, and I routinely take walks in city parks; it doesn't mean I'm finding an abundance of cheeseburgers and beer there, it just means I don't need cheeseburgers and beer every moment of my life.
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Old 06-19-2018, 10:03 AM
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Birds that live entirely on insects fly routinely at high enough altitudes that they are only dots in the sky (swifts and swallows), so they must be finding an abundance of flying insects at several hundred feet.
Nominated for speculative post of the week.
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Old 06-19-2018, 10:10 AM
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I seem to remember that back when I lived in New York City, apartments above the 6th floor were not furnished with window screens. No central air either as it was the 60's. I was only 17 or so and might be remembering incorrectly.
Just to add to this unlikely (no offense, Gary) avenue of inductive reasoning, "residential buildings which max out at 6 floors" is usually in NYC referring to the New Law Tenements (dumbbell tenements), still all over the place and now often expensive. The amount of quality-of-life furnishings both expected and legally demanded can be expected to be minimal. (I lived in one for a decade; my friend lives in a 7-story one, where the contractor wanted more tenants but not the mandatory elevator, etc., but got away with it by calling the first floor the basement.) Re "central air," the 1901 law was about giving any air!

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I live entirely on cheeseburgers and beer, and I routinely take walks in city parks; it doesn't mean I'm finding an abundance of cheeseburgers and beer there, it just means I don't need cheeseburgers and beer every moment of my life.
Correlation, causation. Excellent syllogism.

Last edited by Leo Bloom; 06-19-2018 at 10:12 AM.
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Old 06-19-2018, 10:14 AM
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From my experience, insects are very, very rare up high judging from the windshield and the insect splatter on my little airplane. Only down low taking off and landing just a few hundred feet or less from runway is when I can get plenty, even worse when sun is starting to go down in summer. Around ground level even if in the mountains, as long as there is vegetation, I'm sure there will be plenty of insects including the flying variety.

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Old 06-19-2018, 10:19 AM
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Couldn't that be because of different wind gusts and vectors due to the speed of the airplane, rather than its location?
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Old 06-19-2018, 10:26 AM
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I live at 11,200 feet in elevation. While we don't have a lot of insects in general (one of the reasons I like it) I assure you that we have mosquitoes, flies, butterflies and such. So air density isn't a problem for them at 11-2.
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Old 06-19-2018, 10:40 AM
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I think this settles the limits:
Mosquito Survives in Space for 18 Months

According to results from a Russian biology experiment on the International Space Station (ISS), a mosquito has survived the rigours of space for 18 months. However, this little winged insect didn’t do it inside the comfort of the ISS, he did it outside, in a small can.

The experiment was carried out by the same Russian-Japanese collaboration that brought us Space Beer from space-grown barley (I think you know my feelings about that endeavour), to study the effects of microgravity on various organisms and plants. However, in this case, our little mosquito drew the short straw and was attached to the outside of the station...
The article is informative and witty. For those concerned, Anatoly Grigoryev, Vice President of the Russian Academy of Sciences, said “We brought him back to Earth. He is alive, and his feet are moving.”

But I don't know about the zoology of the biting little bastards most posters here, I presume, have a relationship with. The thing was "a unique, although short-lived, African mosquito, whose larvae develop only in a humid environment."

Of course, at that altitude he wasn't in any shape to sting, let alone move his tiny feets.

Last edited by Leo Bloom; 06-19-2018 at 10:42 AM.
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Old 06-19-2018, 11:44 AM
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Scientists tested the bees in a vacuum chamber and found that they could survive and continue flying at simulated altitudes up to close to 30,000 feet.
How do they fly in a vacuum? Jetpacks?
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Old 06-19-2018, 11:51 AM
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I am reminded of this article (I may have heard it on the radio) about the bug highway:
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Sometimes insects and spiders need to leave where they are and go someplace else for food, for sex, for space. For a variety of reasons bugs disperse.
Quote:
Beginning in 1926, Tanglefoot-coated slides were affixed to airplanes to collect insects, with famed aviator Charles Lindbergh contributing to the data-collection effort by carrying sticky glass slides on his 1933 flight crossing the Atlantic at 2,460 to 5,410 feet and over Greenland at 7,870 to 12,135 feet.
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Old 06-19-2018, 12:50 PM
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Couldn't that be because of different wind gusts and vectors due to the speed of the airplane, rather than its location?
When I practice slow flight a few thousand feet off the ground I still don't get much in the way of insect splatter on my windshield any more so than at high speed.

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I am reminded of this article (I may have heard it on the radio) about the bug highway:
Fascinating link, surprised there are that many that are aloft b/c on long trips, I rarely have to wipe off hardly any on my plane with most accumulating on TO&L.
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Old 06-19-2018, 01:49 PM
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How do they fly in a vacuum? Jetpacks?
Good question, and a great image if correct.
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Old 06-19-2018, 01:55 PM
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Originally Posted by pieceoftheuniverse View Post
I am reminded of this article (I may have heard it on the radio) about the bug highway: ...

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Sometimes insects and spiders need to leave where they are and go someplace else for food, for sex, for space...
This exactly parallels the life cycle of the typical New Yorker, as I heard it years ago:

"Everyone in New York is either looking for a new job, a new lover, or a new apartment."

Last edited by Leo Bloom; 06-19-2018 at 01:55 PM.
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Old 06-19-2018, 02:30 PM
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How do they fly in a vacuum? Jetpacks?
Spiders fitted with jetpacks sounds like hardcore nightmare fuel.
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Old 06-19-2018, 02:41 PM
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How do they fly in a vacuum? Jetpacks?
Bombardier beetles can shoot a jet of hot liquid out through their butt, so you might be on to something.

As much fun as jet-packing insects might be (or jet-butt insects for that matter), I'm sure they just only drew a partial vacuum in the chamber so that they could simulate the air pressure at different altitudes.
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Old 06-19-2018, 03:05 PM
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And they would have painted stripes on the bottom of that chamber.
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Old 06-19-2018, 03:07 PM
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Bombardier beetles can shoot a jet of hot liquid out through their butt, so you might be on to something.

...
Somebody page Colibri.
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Old 06-19-2018, 03:13 PM
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Somebody page Colibri.
T'ain't no big deal. I've shot hot liquid out through my butt a bunch of times.
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Old 06-19-2018, 03:18 PM
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An even funnier image, if gross. Remind me not to go on an EVA with you.
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Old 06-19-2018, 03:21 PM
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Spiders (& other insects) like the smell of mercaptan (the odor that is added to propane). We'll occasionally see one a few thousand feet up.


I guess they're occasionally stowaways on other kinds of aircraft, too. [bold added]
Isn't that the username of a Doper physician here?

Last edited by Leo Bloom; 06-19-2018 at 03:22 PM.
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Old 06-19-2018, 06:40 PM
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Wouldn't think so myself. Did they give the reasoning behind that?
As above: because the bugs were used to searching for food at ground level.
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Old 06-20-2018, 09:33 AM
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I live entirely on cheeseburgers and beer, and I routinely take walks in city parks; it doesn't mean I'm finding an abundance of cheeseburgers and beer there, it just means I don't need cheeseburgers and beer every moment of my life.
Thanks for the irrefutable proof that there are no insects up there and anthropomorphic insectivorous birds are just enjoying the views during some non-feeding leisure. I withdraw my obviously incorrect hypothesis that birds might be up there eating them.

Last edited by jtur88; 06-20-2018 at 09:35 AM.
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Old 06-20-2018, 09:58 AM
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Thanks for the irrefutable proof that there are no insects up there and anthropomorphic insectivorous birds are just enjoying the views during some non-feeding leisure. I withdraw my obviously incorrect hypothesis that birds might be up there eating them.
You didn't propose a hypothesis that they might be eating insects up there. you presented a logical conclusion that

Quote:
Originally Posted by jtur88
they must be finding an abundance of flying insects at several hundred feet.
I didn't refute the possibility, I refuted the certainty.

They may be eating abundant insects at high altitudes-above-terrain (though this seems doubtful, given the rest of the information in this thread), or they may be flying high for other reasons, as I have suggested. Many animals, including birds, engage in play:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Science Direct
Birds engage in three types of play. First, locomotor play, which includes all types of flight-related play such as aerial acrobatics, hanging and flying upside down, as well as the two examples in Figure 1. Ravens and raptors are the most frequent performers of locomotor play, displaying all sorts of acrobatic acts whilst flying.
I would add high-altitude cruising (for insectivorous birds) to the list of locomotor play activities.
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Old 06-20-2018, 01:03 PM
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Small insects and the birds that eat them can be found thousands of feet up. The bugs are carried aloft by thermals and the birds follow them, taking advantage of the rising air, too. When flying in my glider I'll keep an eye out for swallows/swifts as they are good thermal markers.
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Old 06-20-2018, 01:29 PM
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... swallows/swifts as they are good thermal markers.
Neat. Never thought of it that way, although this thread is generally pursuing the matter, but reversed, from the zoological->physical answer.

Apropos, I always look for people swilling beer and stuffing themselves with cheeseburgers, because then I'll know I'm in a city park.

Last edited by Leo Bloom; 06-20-2018 at 01:31 PM.
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Old 06-20-2018, 01:35 PM
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ETA: I'm pretty sure in marine biology there's a similar "_cline" definition based on species habitation. Anyone know it offhand?
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Old 06-21-2018, 02:46 PM
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According to this page: https://www.livescience.com/55454-ho...sects-fly.html

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Scientists have collected locusts flying at heights of 14,764 feet (4,500 m); true bugs, stoneflies, mayflies, and caddisflies at altitudes over 16,404 feet (5,000 m); and flies and butterflies over 19,685 feet (6,000 m), according to Michael Dillon, a researcher with the Department of Zoology and Physiology at the University of Wyoming.
I wonder how they collected those insects at those altitudes.
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Old 06-21-2018, 05:52 PM
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Here is a rather old thread on the subject: https://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb...ad.php?t=82793
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