The Mormon cricket exists in populations of relatively low density throughout most of its range. However, at certain times and places, population explosions or infestations occur in which large numbers of the cricket form roving bands. These bands may include millions of individuals and be found with densities of up to 100 individuals per square meter. These infestations may last years or even decades, and are characterized by a gradual increase and then decrease in population. The factors that trigger these infestations are poorly understood, but are thought to be weather-related.
New research shows that Mormon crickets move in these migratory bands, firstly to find new sources of the critical nutrients of protein and salt, and secondly to avoid being eaten by hungry crickets approaching from the rear. The Mormon cricket's cannibalistic behavior may lead to swarm behavior because crickets may need to move constantly forward to avoid attacks from behind.
When a large band crosses a road it can cause a safety hazard by causing distracted revulsion on the part of the driver, and by causing the road surface to become slick with Mormon cricket guts. The crickets also can cause devastation in agricultural areas.
Read more about this topic: Mormon Cricket
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Famous quotes containing the word swarming:
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—H.L. (Henry Lewis)
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at the time when it was dark with swarming clouds,
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—Amaru (c. seventh century A.D.)