Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Gnat swarming behavior

The following video was made about 100 meters from the Jordan River trail
in Salt Lake City (West Jordan / Midvale), Utah. The site is a pond per-
haps one or two acres across; there are numerous birds (swallows, swifts,
red-wing and yellow-head blackbirds, etc.) around. When I first saw the
gnats, near sundown, they swarmed in a typical ellipsoidal fashion, i.e.
similar to a free-falling water balloon in slow motion. I noticed several
columns forming; in a short while, they became vertical, long and narrow.
They swayed and held shape. In gnat swarms, males and females behave
differently; in one of the vertical columns, a roughly spherical 'head' is
visible to one side, and I wonder if there might be sexual differentiation
here. What is fascinating to me is the relationship of millions of gnats
to an over-arching geometry; this parallels slime mold behavior to some
extent. I've seen lots of gnat swarms before, but nothing like this. We're
leaving the Salt Lake City area today, so I have no time to investigate
this further at the moment (we're leaving today), but I'm interested in
any further input, images, videos, you might have.


'Radio' - modified recording in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir building; note
the laptop in the foreground which controls and monitors the organ, light-
ing, recording, etc., as far as I can tell.


Richard Taylor said...

I did quick look up and as far as I can make out gnats are (comoen name for) insects of the order Diptera (2 wings) - flies - they are non biting -like midges etc and it seems they do form swarms for mating purposes. I was looking at that movement (phenomena) the other day on Mt Wellington (Maungarei) here -it is quite extrordinary.


sondheim said...

Yes, of course I know that. There are numerous species which have different swarming patterns; this one I haven't seen before!

- Alan

Richard Taylor said...

I thought you knew - fascinating for me to read it on Wikipedia - - I was wondering about the swarming the other day - where or what it was - I knew about bees - you must have a great eye for such things -

some great stuff here BTW.

My frend Leicester Kyle combined poetry with his love of nature and science so on - he was also interested in mycology and found a new species of Giant Snail!

Nature is incredible as you are saying - take heart Alan. Gregory of Wryting etc contacted me on My Space re my comment there on your work here. Cheers.