Can bugs predict the climate?


Even ants don’t like a rainy day (Image: Getty)

UK summer time can be responsible for sunny days as well as miserable stormy conditions.

We saw a lot of both this summer, with heat waves hitting record breaking temperatures and storms causing flooding across the UK.

If the forecast is correct, the country will face another storm surge before temperatures return to scorching levels.

It is said that these extreme weather conditions could become the norm as the effects of climate change become more apparent and the weather becomes even more unpredictable than normal.

It makes the ability to predict the weather even more desirable, but did you know that this is supposedly an ability many insects already possess?

Here is everything you need to know …

Yellow rain warning for Wales, Midlands and Northern England (4th August)

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Can insects predict the weather?

For hundreds of years, humans have watched the behavior of animals on the planet to predict the weather forecast.

Paying attention to insects and spiders in particular has helped many, from farmers to sailors, predict what they think the weather will do next.

For example, folklore says: “When ants build their walls frequently / rain falls from the clouds” – this means that ants tend to be busy before it rains, as do spiders and woodlice.

Alternatively, if spiders are busy building webs in the middle of the day, this is taken as a sign that the weather should stay clear.

Other examples of insect-related weather folklore include:

  • See how high the hornet’s nest is and how high the snow rests.
  • When the anthills are high in July, the coming winter will be harsh.
  • When bees fly at a distance, the days are warm and the skies are bright; But when her flight ends near her home, stormy weather is sure to come.
  • The early arrival of crickets on the stove means early winter.
  • The faster the crickets chirp, the warmer the temperature.

Frost-covering cobweb

The behavior of how spiders build their webs could be a way of predicting the weather (Image: Getty)

While most of this is superstition, there is some scientific evidence that insect behavior changes depending on incoming weather conditions, especially when it rains.

When asked why flies tend to bite before a storm, Dr. Ken Paige – professor and assistant director of the Department of Animal Biology at the University of Illinois – of the Chicago Tribune that insects and flies “likely respond to falling air pressure” pre-rain pressure. ‘

Getting caught in a rain shower can be devastating for a tiny insect. So if they can predict changes in the atmosphere, they can better prepare for adverse weather conditions.

Researchers in the laboratory of José Bento, an entomologist at the University of São Paulo in Brazil, have also found that certain insects tend to avoid sex when the air pressure drops before the rain.

They investigated changes in mating behavior in the pumpkin beetle, the real army worm moth and the potato aphid under falling, stable and increasing air pressure conditions.

What they found was a significant decrease in pheromone response when barometric pressure fell compared to a steady or increasing pressure.

Under stable or increasing air pressure conditions, all males exhibited normal mating behavior, which shows that bad weather can be a mood killer for some insects.

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