It's a bird! It's a UFO! Or maybe it's simply a flock of moths setting off a St. Elmo's fire-like corona discharge. This is the message of recent correlations between a series of nocturnal UFO sightings in Utah between 1965 and 1968 and known infestations of spruce bud-worm moths in that area.
Philip S. Callahan and R. W. Mankin with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Research Laboratory in Gainesville, Florida, recently reported in Applied Optics on their work showing that when insects are placed in an electric field, an electrical discharge can occur in the immediate vicinity. That discharge, they explain, is accompanied by the emission of visible light that could be mistakenly attributed to a UFO. Likening the process to the phenomenon known as St. Elmo's fire, the USDA researchers point out that ghost stories and tales of apparitions surrounded past sightings of the corona discharge typically seen in stormy weather at church steeples and prominent points of sailing ships.