Posted in bugnado

Bugnado! Swarms of insects in swirling vortex

WJLA Washington DC reports:
“Imagine you’re tooling down the highway, maybe some Dave Dudley playing on the stereo, when you notice what seems to be black fog looming on the horizon. Getting closer, it becomes clear that the cloud is composed of hundreds of thousands of individual creatures, all buzzing crazily in the shape of a weak tornado. Too late to roll up the window! Within seconds, the whirling cloud of insects has filled the car, coating the upholstery with a fluttering mass of crawling chitin that’s trying to go all Lewis and Clark into your ear canals.”

“Congratulations: You’ve just had a brush with a “bugnado,” a rare insectoid twister somewhat like a locustcane or cicadaphoon. From the available evidence, a bugnado is spawned when heavy rain or floods and optimal temperatures cause insects to hatch en masse, conjuring dense colonies of buglife that ascend into sky-darkening breeding frenzies. These superswarms of gnats or mayflies might not have enough power to tear houses from their foundations like an EF-3 tornado, but certainly can send a vehicle to a series of costly appointment with the car wash. Some swarms are so dense they can appear on radar.”

“The gag-inducing term “bugnado” comes courtesy of one of our favorite storm photographers here at ABC7, Mike Hollingshead. On July 4, 2011, he found himself in the middle of a droning outbreak of bugnadoes in northwest Missouri.”

“Hollingshead, who’s responsible for some of the world’s coolest nighttime supercell photography as well as photos that just make you say Whoa!, was returning from a trip shooting this summer’s historic flooding of the Missouri River when something ahead brought him up short. It “looked like crazy smoke running down the interstate,” he said on his website, but in actuality it was “bugs, miles of bugs hanging out over I29 in weak tube forms.”

“The standing water left by the floods had created prime bugnado-generation conditions. Hollingshead earlier had noticed tree tops that looked like they were blackly “smoking,” the insect activity was that high. But on this night, he was in for a shocker: There was a bugnado that hovered above the pavement for nearly 15 minutes, waving gently like kelp in sea currents and splitting to form multiple vortices.”

If you go to 3:50 of the video, the scene shifts to an urban highway-bridge. If you view it until 4:29 there is a huge shower of sparks and fire on the left hand side of the bridge at the horizon. I don’t know what caused it. Nor do the videographers.

Fortunately, the bugnado is rare. For now… bwa ha ha!


Christian writer and Georgia teacher's aide who loves Jesus, a quiet life, art, beauty, and children.