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This 'UFO' on Google Street View is likely a butterfly

Something weird has been spotted in Florida, but for once, the explanation is actually quite simple.

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Eric Mack Contributing Editor
Eric Mack has been a CNET contributor since 2011. Eric and his family live 100% energy and water independent on his off-grid compound in the New Mexico desert. Eric uses his passion for writing about energy, renewables, science and climate to bring educational content to life on topics around the solar panel and deregulated energy industries. Eric helps consumers by demystifying solar, battery, renewable energy, energy choice concepts, and also reviews solar installers. Previously, Eric covered space, science, climate change and all things futuristic. His encrypted email for tips is ericcmack@protonmail.com.
Expertise Solar, solar storage, space, science, climate change, deregulated energy, DIY solar panels, DIY off-grid life projects. CNET's "Living off the Grid" series. https://www.cnet.com/feature/home/energy-and-utilities/living-off-the-grid/ Credentials
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Eric Mack
2 min read

Some media outlets have been running with a story about an unidentified flying object spotted in a Google Maps image of South Florida. But a few simple clicks allow for the rather easy identification of the flying object.

Granted, when looking at the Street View image at its full resolution, it does look like there's some sort of metallic or manufactured object of alien origin emerging from behind a cloud.

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But simply tapping the icon to zoom in on the image twice reveals that the bizarre-looking blip is really a product of the wondrous beauty of nature combined with the imperfect nature of having to stitch together multiple images to create Google's three-dimensional Street View snapshot of the world. 

The flying object is actually quite well known: a butterfly, or maybe a moth. An entomologist might be able to clear up the exact species, but the patterned wing, visible antennae and head of the insect make it pretty clear that this is a member of the Lepidoptera order rather than the kind of transport aliens from Proxima b might order up. 

zoom

A UFO no more! Identification complete. Any entomologists care to confirm?

Google Street View Screenshot by Eric Mack / CNET

What makes the picture odd appears to be that the flying bug image was cut in half because of the way Street View stitches together different stills of a landscape. In other words, the camera took one image as the presumed butterfly was beginning to pass into frame and then took an adjacent shot after the insect had flown along and the two images were joined together, producing a half-butterfly artifact.

Bolstering this explanation is the fact that you can "step to the side" in Google Street View and all other elements in the scene -- including the clouds -- stay the same. But the half-butterfly UFO is no longer visible, having flown out of frame. 

Even if it was a true UFO in the image, it probably wouldn't be the freakiest thing captured by Street View in Florida. I'd be much more worried about this alligator caught lying in wait by a rack of canoes.

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