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Do Solar Eclipses Make Bugs Do Strange Things?

August 17th, 2017

In case you do not know, we are due for a solar eclipse. On August 21st a solar eclipse will occur. Seeing a solar eclipse, especially for the first time ever, can be fun even for those of you with no interest in astronomy. When solar eclipses occur, the suns’ rays are obviously blocked by the moon, causing darkness. As you may guess, this sudden onset of darkness has an effect on the environment. For example, the temperature drops by ten to fifteen degrees and winds blows a bit faster. Also, animals behave differently in response to these surrounding changes sunshine. For around two and a half hours, our environment will become much darker, and that is enough to cause even some humans to start acting strange. However, only for a couple of minutes will our surroundings become completely devoid of light. The rest of the time will see a decrease and then an increase in the amount of sunlight shone. There are not many studies concerning solar eclipse-induced behavior change, but there are some anecdotal reports that experts agree make sense. And a few University studies have demonstrated some unusual findings.

Different insects respond to solar eclipses in different ways. For example, the desert cicada, according to researchers at the University of Illinois and Florida’s Barry University, responds strangely to partial losses in daytime light caused by solar eclipses. Once the sun becomes half covered, the previously noisy cicadas suddenly ceased their calling sounds, so that not a sound from them could be heard. This lack of cicada calling lasted for forty minutes, but resumed once the sun was, once again, only halfway obscured. The researchers believe that cicadas require the heat in order to work up the energy necessary for their constant calling. When temperatures drop to lower points, they simply lose their calling ability.

Orb-weaver spiders have been seen tearing down their webs at the start of an eclipse, only to rebuild their webs once the sun began to shine again. During solar eclipses, bees are also known for becoming more active, but only during partial solar eclipses. Most of the bees observed for this Indian study, would leave their hives, but return a minute later. For some reason, the bees became restless when the dark intruded on the light of day. Perhaps the decrease in light signalled the bees to work faster before turning in for the night. It can be assumed that the minority of bees that did not become more active and restless during partial eclipses, laughed at the ones who did like they were fools.

Do you believe that there are logical reasons for this behavioral difference among spiders and insects during solar eclipses?

 

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