We report 4 incidents of large (hundreds to hundreds of thousands of individuals) mixed-species flights of predatory and scavenging aquatic Heteroptera and Coleoptera. The events occurred on normal (mostly clear, calm) autumn 2005 and spring 2006 late afternoons near Flagstaff, Arizona. Flight days were either near the full moon or in advanced waning lunar periods. At least 18 species were involved in the flights, with as many as 16 species (7 species of Heteroptera in 3 families, 9 species of Coleoptera in 2 families) in a single flight. Heteroptera (especially from the family Corixidae) were 2–4 orders of magnitude more numerous than Coleoptera. The diasporas plummeted, with much direct mortality, onto green metal roofs, and the largest event lasted more than 2 hours. Even after 2 days, uninjured individuals failed to resume their flights. The literature suggests that such flights occur for autumn movement to winter habitats or for location of springtime habitats for reproduction. The relative proportions of species in flocks were similar neither to the relative proportions in the region nor to those in nearby livestock watering tanks, indicating that the flights consisted of nonrandom assemblages of species. These events are rare or unique observations of coordinated movement of mixed predatory and scavenging invertebrate species.
Stevens, Lawrence E.; Polhemus, John T.; Durfee, Richard S.; and Olson, Carl A.
"Large mixed-species dispersal flights for predatory and scavenging aquatic Heteroptera and Coleoptera, northern Arizona, USA,"
Western North American Naturalist: Vol. 67
, Article 11.
Available at: http://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/wnan/vol67/iss4/11