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Author Topic: Insect swarming  (Read 2130 times)

Offline wolfekeeper

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Insect swarming
« on: 06/11/2009 00:59:51 »
Particularly during the summer months I notice that there are little clouds of midges and other flying insects. They often seem to form above relatively high points on hedges and around plants or trees in little flocks of insects.

My question is, doesn't it take a lot of energy to be flying around so energetically, so why do they form in these little clouds like that?


 

Offline Don_1

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Insect swarming
« Reply #1 on: 06/11/2009 08:36:34 »
I know what you mean here. Sometimes I have to drive along the A13 through Rainham Marshes in Essex. Swirling towers of mosquitoes several feet wide and many feet high can be seen from a mile off and more.

This question was asked a while back http://www.thenakedscientists.com/forum/index.php?topic=22445, but I don't think we really tackled it.

So lets have another go. Here's my thoughts:

If these great swarms were to land, they would cover a vast area and being 'grounded' they would have little defence against predators. In these airborne swarms, they are out of the reach of terrestrial predators and birds might be reluctant to attack such a vast number of the blood suckers, for fear of becoming the predated rather than the predator. It might also be possible that these swarms confuse birds, looking, as they might, like a single huge organism.

There is also the 'safety in numbers' aspect. While grounded, those on the edges would be vulnerable to predation. By swarming, each individual can attempt to get on the inside of the swarm, where they are at less risk.

There's one hypothesis, let's see if someone else can come up with another.
 

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Insect swarming
« Reply #1 on: 06/11/2009 08:36:34 »

 

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