Watch CBSN Live

Weather radar picks up gigantic swarm of dragonflies over parts of southeast U.S.

The National Weather Service said it picked up unusual imagery on its weather radar — and as it turns out, it appears to be a gigantic swarm of dragonflies. The agency's Wakefield office caught the large blob extending from Virginia to North Carolina on its radar earlier this week.

NWS Wakefield tweeted Monday about its findings: "Bit of a radar conundrum today. No rain around the region with decent returns on radar. Usually we'd think we're seeing bugs. Dual polarization radar products argue otherwise and some of these returns are above 10,000ft."

"Migrating dragonflies is a possibility ... they migrate in fall, usually prior to cooler weather arriving, and towards areas where more precipitation has fallen recently. That said, not sure [dragonflies] can fly that high or if they move in numbers great enough to produce these returns,"  NWS Wakefield tweeted.

Mike Montefusco, a meteorologist with NWS Wakefield, told The Virginian-Pilot it was a "curious phenomenon." 

"Obviously we're not bug experts on our end, but there was a case like this in the Cleveland office last week where they did determine it was dragonflies," Montefusco said. "So that's our running theory at this point." An entomologist told the local outlet the dragonflies were likely flying as high as they were south to search for warmer weather to lay eggs. 

Dragonflies were also detected on radar last week over Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania. The agency's Cleveland office said it was likely dragonflies mixed with birds.

In June, a swarm of ladybugs moved through San Diego County and was registered on weather radar. The NWS office in San Diego tweeted a video of the radar that appeared to show precipitation, but was in fact what they called a ladybug "bloom."

View CBS News In