While visiting Leziria Grande at Vila Franca de Xira in Portugal recently, photographer Ana Filipa Scarpa noticed something off in the distance that resembled a funnel cloud. But it wasn't a tornado, or even a funnel for that matter. Rather, it was something... alive.
Photo credit: Ana Filipa Scarpa; republished here with permission.
What you're seeing here is an insect swarm. A swarm of mosquitoes, to be exact.
"Earlier this year, I was finishing-up my photo shoot for the day, and I began to pack my things — when suddenly I saw in the sky [something] that I thought was a wind twister," Scarpa told io9. "It was a very high funnel swinging to the left and to the right. I pointed my camera and began shooting before it hit me. But the funnel did not move toward me — and I thought it was so strange — so I got into my car and started to drive towards it, and that's when I realized it was a mosquito twister."
As she drove nearer, the mosquitoes actually started entering into her car.
Leziria Grande de Vila Franca de Xira is a highly fertile breeding ground for mosquitoes, Scarpa told me, because there are many water branches to assure water to animals and harvests.
Scarpa says the swarm extended about 1,000 feet high and was nearly a quarter mile (300 meters) from her position. It was taken with a Nikon D3 and a 200 mm lens; perspective makes the leading edge of the swarm appear smaller and thus tapered.