Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Why locusts swarm

There is an article in the Financial Times (and other newspapers) today about why locusts swarm.

Basically they become stressed when they feel overcrowded due to there not being enough food to go around.

This causes them to produce serotonin which makes them gregarious, change color, and develop bigger leg muscles for a long flight.

It seems to me that the final stepping stone in the logic trail is missing. OK, so they are feeling gregarious and the have big leg muscles and bright colors. But by the same logic, maybe that would trigger them to start a party and dance all night long.

Still, science has discovered a fact, which is that locusts produce serotonin and that when they do they swarm.

And we know that 10% of the world's human population suffers form locust attacks on their crops.

So here's an idea. Spray serotonin on locusts at a time of year when there is nowhere within reach that has crops for them to eat. They will swarm, not find anything and die of exhaustion.

If the experiment doesn't work then nothing is lost save the cost of an experiment that didn't work. It doesn't involve pesticides or genetic change and it is self-teminating.

Writing this, I feel bad for the locusts and for encouraging death by exhaustion - and maybe the idea is too good and would work, and cause unknown changes in the ecological balance. Who know?

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