There’s an old saying, “If you have time to spare, go by air.” There are many reasons for a flight delays – mechanical problems and weather being the most common. But as much as we dislike hanging out in an airport terminal – would you want your plane to take off into a fog bank like this?
We know that thick fog grounds airplanes, and now, according to a recent study, we know that it also grounds mosquitoes. But why? Mosquitoes fly when the air is dry; they even fly during a rainstorm. So why are they grounded during periods of fog?
The explanation has to do with a halteres, “a pair of club-shaped organs…that function as sensory flight stabilizers.” These Tootsie-Roll-Pop shaped organs are found on insects with one pair of wings, such as flies and mosquitoes, and are thought to have evolved from hind wings. Like insect wings, halteres flap up and down at a high rate of speed, but in a counterpoint rhythm to the wings.
According to this article in “ScienceDaily”, “On average during a rainstorm, mosquitoes get struck by a drop once every 20 seconds”. These raindrops are more than “50 times” their body mass. By comparison, fog particles are about 5-microns in size, and weigh “about 20-million times less than a mosquito”.
But mosquito halteres “flap approximately 400 times each second” and, when the air is foggy, they can strike “thousands of drops per second”. This frequency of inpact is what leads “to flight failure”.
About 85 years ago, Charles Lindbergh flew his airplane, “The Spirit of St. Louis” through several hours of fog on his historic flight from New York to Paris. It’s a good thing he did not rely on halteres for flight stabilization.
Upcoming Outdoor Events:
Trail Maintenance Schedule. Come join our volunteers as they help maintain our trails. Contact Steve at firstname.lastname@example.org for time and place.
Wednesday mornings, December 5, 12, & 19.
Saturday mornings, December 1 & 15.
Saturday, December 15, 9:30-11:30 AM. “Wild Birds of Autumn” at Towsley Canyon. The birds are busy preparing for winter. Beginning birders are welcome. Binoculars optional. Meet outside at the front gate. Click here for a map and directions.
Saturday, December 15, 9:30-11:30 PM. “Cool Adaptations at Pico Canyon”. Nature’s creatures are busy preparing for the coming winter. Bundle up and join us to observe how wildlife and plant life adapt to survive the short days and cold months. Meet in the parking lotadjacent to Mentryille. Click here for a map and directions.
New trail maps available. If you’d like to explore a bit on your own, the City of Santa Clarita has a website with trail maps of our local open spaces: http://hikesantaclarita.com/.
There’s also a new website for bicycle riders. http://bikesantaclarita.com
You can listen to stories like this every Friday morning at 7:10 a.m. on “The SCV Outdoor Report”, brought to you by your hometown radio station KHTS (AM1220) and by the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority.
Or check out our Facebook page – L.A. Mountains.