Skip navigation

Flight behaviour and migration of insect pests: Radar studies in developing countries (NRI Bulletin 71)

Flight behaviour and migration of insect pests: Radar studies in developing countries (NRI Bulletin 71)

Reynolds, D.R. ORCID: 0000-0001-8749-7491 and Riley, J.R. (1997) Flight behaviour and migration of insect pests: Radar studies in developing countries (NRI Bulletin 71). [Working Paper]

Doc-0021.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (63MB)
Official URL:


The use of radar to make direct observations of insects flying at altitude has provided many new insights into the phenomenon of long-range insect migration. In particular, the technique has produced a wealth of quantitative information on the spatial and temporal distribution of migrants in the air, on the direction, speed and duration of their displacements, and on their orientation behaviour. These data could not have been obtained by any other means, and it is probably fair to claim that our present knowledge of the magnitude and importance of high altitude insect movement stems very largely from radar observations. The pioneering field studies using the first specially designed entomological radar were undertaken in 1968, with the support of the UK Overseas Development Administration (ODA), and since that time ODA has been responsible for funding almost all of the applications of the technique in developing countries. The motivation for this work was the assumption that it was impossible to design efficient management strategies for migrant pest insects without a good knowledge of their migratory behaviour, and of the role which this played in their population dynamics. The ODA-funded studies thus focused primarily on pest species, and were carried out by the Radar Entomology Unit of the Natural Resources Institute (NRI) and its precursors. In this Bulletin, we give a brief account of the history of radar entomology, with emphasis on studies of insect pests. Next, the different types of entomological radar and some associated analysis methods are outlined, together with descriptions of some ancillary measurement techniques. We then describe in some detail the contributions made by the NRI Radar Unit to current knowledge of the flight patterns of a variety of major insect pests of agriculture and of human health. These pests include: grasshoppers and locusts, the African Armyworm moth, the Rice Brown Planthopper and other rice pests, the Old World Bollworm, and some mosquito vectors of human diseases. Recent developments directed towards long-term monitoring of insect aerial faunas (for environmental impact, biodiversity and conservation purposes), and towards observations of low-altitude flight, are included. The Bulletin concludes with a short overview, in which we speculate how the technique might find application in the future.

Item Type: Working Paper
Uncontrolled Keywords: insect migration, NRI Radar Entomology Unit, entomological radars, harmonic radar, overseas development, crop pest, grasshopper, locust, armyworm moth, rice brown planthopper, old world bollworm, mosquito
Subjects: S Agriculture > S Agriculture (General)
S Agriculture > SB Plant culture
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Engineering & Science > Natural Resources Institute
Faculty of Engineering & Science > Natural Resources Institute > Agriculture, Health & Environment Department
Related URLs:
Last Modified: 26 Nov 2019 13:36

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics