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).
The Locust Economy
I was picking the brain of a restauranteur for insight into things like Groupon. He confirmed what we all understand in the abstract: that these deals are terrible for the businesses that offer them; that they draw in nomadic deal hunters from a vast surrounding region who are unlikely to ever return; that most deal-hunters carefully ensure that they spend just the deal amount or slightly more; that a badly designed offer can bankrupt a small business. He added one little factoid I did not know: offering a Groupon deal is by now so strongly associated with a desperate, dying restaurant that professional food critics tend to write off any restaurant that offers one without even trying it.[more inside]
"Did you put any thought into this?" - Using their bare hands, two guys carefully move a swarming colony of placid honey bees. [more inside]
That time has come again, the magical time of the century when the, somewhat creepy, bugs we know as the cicada appear. [more inside]
Watch a swarm of flying robotic drones construct a tiny building. In the future, construction workers will be a buzzing, mildly disturbing haze of mechanical diligence.
Some guys in a Minneapolis basement, 1984. Rehearsing "When Doves Cry", "Irresistible Bitch", "Erotic City".... [more inside]
In the last two weeks, [NYT] more than 100 mostly tiny earthquakes a day, on average, have rattled a remote area of Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, putting scientists who monitor the park’s strange and volatile geology on alert. The quake zone, about 10 miles northwest of the Old Faithful geyser, has shown little indication of building toward a larger event, like a volcanic eruption of the type that last ravaged the Yellowstone region tens of thousands of years ago. Don't rest too easily, though: new studies of the plumbing that feeds the Yellowstone supervolcano shows the plume and the magma chamber under the volcano are larger than first thought and contradicts claims that only shallow hot rock exists. For more info, check out this exhaustive site that tracks Yellowstone tectonic activity and details a possible supervolcano event. [previously]
From Ants to People, an Instinct to Swarm. Carl Zimmer looks at the work of Iain Couzin. [Via The Loom.]
Parts of Sweden are overrun by caterpillars. Interesting photos of a caterpillar swarm, with pictures of trees, buildings and bicycles completely cocooned-over with visually stunning (if icky) results. Swarms aren't that unusual, but the term is more habitually used with flying insects like bees and locusts. Soon enough humans might be joining in the fun too, albeit via surrogates.
Swarm shows you what websites people are visiting, right now. Although they appear to be migrating servers at the moment. And, in order for it to work as thought out, you do have to share some amount of your browsing activity (anonymously).
Iraq - All oil, no gas. A consortium of 34 Turkish companies have joined together to stop all exports of petrol / refined oil products to Iraq, because Iraq's government owes them over $1 billion that they have so far been unable to pay. Iraq's largest refinery was forced to shut down in December, after its truck drivers walked off the job due to insurgent threats. They reopened ten days later, only to shut down again after an insurgent swarm attack killed and wounded more drivers. The refinery has once more ceased activity, as their reserves of refined fuel are full and there is no way to get them to their customers. Iraq's diesel-driven power plants are undersupplied too, leading to worsening outages.