Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

For Some Insects, It's Smart To Run With The Crowd

Date:
April 2, 2005
Source:
USDA / Agricultural Research Service
Summary:
An ecologist with the Agricultural Research Service, has an explanation for why some insects, like the desert locust, Schistocerca gregaria, gather in mind-boggling numbers and move together across the landscape.

A radio transmitter attached to the back of a Mormon cricket helps researchers determine its movement in the field.
Credit: Photo by Stephen Ausmus

To the casual observer, the millions of swarming locusts that descended on West Africa last year were like something straight out of a science fiction novel. Several mile-wide bands of the voracious insects ate their way through the region's crop lands, threatening to cause food shortages and loss of income for local farmers.

Now, Gregory Sword, an ecologist with the Agricultural Research Service, has an explanation for why some insects, like the desert locust, Schistocerca gregaria, gather in mind-boggling numbers and move together across the landscape.

In the current issue of the journal Nature, Sword describes how the Mormon cricket--a species of katydid known to periodically overrun agricultural fields in the Northern Plains of the United States--relies on the protection afforded by thousands, if not millions, of its fellow crickets to reduce the risk of attack by predators.

Researchers have speculated that insects moving in bands derive some benefits from traveling en masse. But no one has previously attempted to quantify those advantages, mostly because of the inherent difficulty in tracking how individual insects move within a band of millions.

Sword, who works at the ARS Northern Plains Agricultural Research Laboratory in Sidney, Mont., teamed with colleagues Patrick Lorch of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Darryl Gwynne of the University of Toronto at Mississauga to use radio transmitters to monitor the movements of individual Mormon crickets during a study last year near Dinosaur National Monument in Colorado.

The researchers discovered that for the crickets, there's safety in large numbers. Those insects which were part of a large moving band were much less likely to be eaten. In fact, 50 to 60 percent of the Mormon crickets that were separated from a migratory band were killed within two days by predators such as birds and rodents, while none of those staying with the band were eaten. Radio transmitters belonging to those unfortunate, lone insects were found either chewed or still glued to a partially-eaten cricket corpse.

ARS is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by USDA / Agricultural Research Service. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

USDA / Agricultural Research Service. "For Some Insects, It's Smart To Run With The Crowd." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 April 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/03/050325185106.htm>.
USDA / Agricultural Research Service. (2005, April 2). For Some Insects, It's Smart To Run With The Crowd. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/03/050325185106.htm
USDA / Agricultural Research Service. "For Some Insects, It's Smart To Run With The Crowd." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/03/050325185106.htm (accessed July 30, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

AP (July 30, 2014) Thousands of people are trekking to a Bavarian farmer's field to check out a mysterious set of crop circles. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

AFP (July 30, 2014) Pan-African airline ASKY has suspended all flights to and from the capitals of Liberia and Sierra Leone amid the worsening Ebola health crisis, which has so far caused 672 deaths in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Duration: 00:43 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

AP (July 30, 2014) At least 20 New Jersey residents have tested positive for chikungunya, a mosquito-borne virus that has spread through the Caribbean. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo

Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo

AP (July 30, 2014) River otters were hitting the water slides to beat the summer heatwave on Wednesday at Ichikawa City's Zoological and Botanical Garden. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins