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A rod is an insect caught in the act of flying by a video camera. Some hoaxers or very imaginative people have been maintaining that rods are actually some sort of unknown life form of alien origin. But, according to Doug Yanega of the Entomology Department at the University of California at Riverside and a member of the Straight Dope Science Advisory Board, rods are

a videographic artifact based on the frame capture rate of the videocam versus the wingbeat frequency of the insects. Essentially what you see is several wingbeat cycles of the insect on each frame of the video, creating the illusion of a "rod" with bulges along its length. The blurred body of the insect as it moves forward forms the "rod," and the oscillation of the wings up and down form the bulges. Anyone with a video camera can duplicate the effect, if you shoot enough footage of flying insects from the right distance.*

Rods seem to be a favorite topic of UFO and cryptozoology buffs. One of the more outspoken defenders of rods as aliens is Jose Escamilla, host of the RoswellRods.com web site. Jose has even brought his story and films to The Learning Channel. Some hilarious photographs of "rods" have been posted on the Internet at the Escamilla site. My favorite is "the swallow chases a rod" which looks just like a bird going after an insect.

See also orb.

further reading

Psychic Vibrations by Robert Schaeffer

Last updated 27-Oct-2015

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