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March or Be eaten by your friends

Band members must continually move to avoid being eaten by similarly deprived conspecifics. If you're a swarming Mormon cricket (Anabrus simplex), marching is the only way to avoid being eaten by the individual who is just behind you. Tips to deter your cannibal buddies from turning you into dinner: 1) Move 2) Move!!! 3) Keep your body axis parallel to the flow 4) Beware of females (shorter version). Cannibalistic interactions during swarming behaviour have also been observed in desert locusts (Schistocerca gregaria) (looks paywalled but actually free).
posted by elgilito on Aug 4, 2013 - 17 comments

The Austerity Kitchen

The Great Hog-Eating Confederacy
Early Southerners ate a rather limited and unvarying diet. At table the famished guest seldom found more than bacon, corn pone, and coffee sweetened with molasses. Pioneering sociologist Harriet Martineau complained that “little else than pork, under all manner of disguises” sustained her during her visit to the American SouthFor the most part, slaves observed the same diet as poor white farmers. Though many kept gardens, and thus supplemented their rations of pork and corn with a wide variety of vegetables, they had otherwise little opportunity to augment their diet.. Another traveler griped that that he had “never fallen in with any cooking so villainous.” A steady assault of “rusty salt pork, boiled or fried … and musty corn meal dodgers” brought his stomach to surrender. Rarely did “a vegetable of any description” make it on his plate, and “no milk, butter, eggs, or the semblance of a condiment” did he once see.
Christine Baumgarthuber is a writer for The New Inquiry and runs the blog The Austerity Kitchen. [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Mar 22, 2013 - 58 comments

"...do you really want a couple million eagles circling overhead?"

In 2003, the BBC reported that a population explosion of Great Gerbils had destroyed more than 4 million hectares of grasslands in China's north-western Xinjiang region -- an area about the size of Switzerland. By 2005 the damage covered 5 million hectares, and the Xinjuang Regional Headquarters for Controlling Locusts and Rodents were reported to be breeding and attracting pairs of golden eagles to curb the gerbil population. So McSweeney's Joshuah Bearman was assigned to the story. His report: An Investigation Into Xinjiang's Growing Swarm of Great Gerbils, Which May or May Not be Locked in a Death-Struggle With the Golden Eagle, With Important Parallels and/or Implications Regarding Koala Bears, The Pied Piper, Spongmonkeys, Cane Toads, Black Death, [and] Text-Messaging..
posted by zarq on Sep 18, 2012 - 38 comments

“All thy trees and fruit of thy land shall the locust consume.”

Math Is No Match for Locust Swarms. "Mathematicians have now figured out the dynamics that drive locusts across the landscape, devastating everything underfoot — and the math says people will never be able to predict where the little buggers will go. The new analysis, reported in an upcoming issue of Physical Review E, suggests that random factors accumulate and influence how swarming locusts collectively decide to change course. “These swarms are driven by intrinsic dynamics,” says team member Iain Couzin, a biologist at Princeton University. “In all practical terms, predicting when a swarm is going to change direction is going to be impossible." More information here.
posted by Fizz on Jul 27, 2010 - 27 comments

Gregarious adults and solitary hoppers

Tracking African locust swarms - a rainy winter and spring in northwestern Africa promised a rich harvest for area farmers, but instead has brought plagues of ravaging locusts...
"Swarms of locusts can contain as many as 80 million locusts per square kilometer...a small part of a typical swarm can eat as much food as 2,500 people in a single day."
posted by tpl1212 on Oct 18, 2004 - 3 comments

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