APR 09, 2018 07:53 PM PDT

The Coordination of Locusts

WRITTEN BY: Carmen Leitch

Locust swarms find direction from an unusual cue - microbes. Researchers have found that bacteria that live within locusts, symbionts, synthesize a chemical called guaiacol. That chemical is an integral part of a pheromone, a molecule made by an organism that can go airborne and signal to other members of that organism's species.

After a fertile period, there may be an explosion in a population of locusts, which have to be able to sense when an area is getting overcrowded. One way they can do so is by detecting the pheromones made by the symbiotic bacteria. Learn more from the video by I Contain Multitudes, a feature from Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
About the Author
  • Experienced research scientist and technical expert with authorships on 28 peer-reviewed publications, traveler to over 60 countries, published photographer and internationally-exhibited painter, volunteer trained in disaster-response, CPR and DV counseling.
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