I read in the news and heard in the radio this morning about the release of Ministry of Defence (MoD) archive files, from 1994 to 2000, which contains reports on sightings of unidentified flying objects (UFOs) and aliens around Britain. As I often do, whenever I read something unusual and interesting in the news, I searched the CAB Abstracts database to see what I could find on the subject – it has almost become a challenge – and I always find we have scientific papers on just about everything I have searched so far, including one article on UFOs. Read on to find out about UFO sightings reported in a scientific paper!

The paper on UFOs I found in the database was by Callahan and Mamkin and was published in 1978. It describes an electric discharge called St Elmo’s fire, which originated from nocturnal swarms of flying insects. The authors carried out an experiment on five insect species – Trichoplusia ni (Hb.), Euthyrhynchus floridanus (L.), Tylocerina nodosus (F.), Conotrachelus nenuphar (Hbst.) and Choristoneura fumiferana (Clem.), which were subjected to a large electric field. When stimulated by the electric field each of the insects emitted visible glows of various colours and black light (ultraviolet light). I can imagine this would be quite a beautiful sight: 'a swarm of excited insects gathered together and emitting light of all colours in a dark sky!'

Based on their results, the authors suggested that some sightings of UFOs, such as those in Utah, USA, during 1965-68, may actually have been partly due to swarms of the insect species C. fumiferana, commonly known as the spruce budworm, stimulated as they were flying into high electric fields produced by thunderheads and high density particulate matter in the atmosphere. Indeed, a correlation of nocturnal UFO sightings throughout Canada and the USA with spruce budworm infestations of forests might give some insight into nocturnal insect flight patterns. Therefore, a lot of UFO sightings might not be unidentified flying objects at all, but identified flying insects (IFI). If you're interested in insects, I found almost 3000 records just on the spruce budworm in the CAB Abstracts database.

The photo above was obtained in the site. It is from a UFO seen in 2004, which was reported in The Washington Times and said “the UFO was only seen twice and flashed different coloured lights each time.” Sound familiar?


Callahan, P.S.; Mamkin, R.W. (1978) Insects as unidentified flying objects. Applied Optics Vol. 17, No. 21: 3355-3360.

News article on MoD released files.

1 Comment

  1. Tom truth seeker on 1st January 2011 at 3:34 am

    I sincerely believe that we are very near the time when governments around the world will admit we are not alone. It seems we are being conditioned to accept the fact. This last year has been unbelievable for UFO sightings with over twice as many reported sights compared with 2009 dubbed ‘The year of the UFO’ Check out some of the videos and articles on my website I’ve been working non stop to spread the knowledge. Peace and love!

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