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Applied Optics

Applied Optics


  • Vol. 17, Iss. 21 — Nov. 1, 1978
  • pp: 3355–3360

Insects as unidentified flying objects

Philip S. Callahan and R. W. Mankin  »View Author Affiliations

Applied Optics, Vol. 17, Issue 21, pp. 3355-3360 (1978)

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Five species of insects were subjected to a large electric field. Each of the insects stimulated in this manner emitted visible glows of various colors and blacklight (uv). It is postulated that the Uintah Basin, Utah, nocturnal UFO display (1965–1968) was partially due to mass swarms of spruce budworms, Choristoneura fumiferana (Clemens), stimulated to emit this type of St. Elmo’s fire by flying into high electric fields caused by thunderheads and high density particulate matter in the air. There was excellent time and spatial correlation between the 1965–1968 UFO nocturnal sightings and spruce budworm infestation. It is suggested that a correlation of nocturnal UFO sightings throughout the U.S. and Canada with spruce budworm infestations might give some insight into nocturnal insect flight patterns.

© 1978 Optical Society of America

Original Manuscript: December 12, 1977
Published: November 1, 1978

Philip S. Callahan and R. W. Mankin, "Insects as unidentified flying objects," Appl. Opt. 17, 3355-3360 (1978)

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