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Insects and Electricity

30 October 2022
Biology, Electromagnetism

At https://tallbloke.wordpress.com/2022/10/28/insects-can-have-similar-effects-on-atmospheric-electricity-as-weather-events-say-researchers/ … Darwin was puzzled by ‘aeronaut spiders’ appearing from nowhere on his ocean going trips. By measuring the electric fields near swarming honeybees researchers have discovered that insects can produce as much atmospheric electric charge as a thunderstorm cloud. Or that is the analogy they used. This type of electricity helps shape weather events, seems to aid insects in finding fook and lifts spiders up into the air [see for example, https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2018/07/the-electric-flight-of-spiders/564437/ … which show how they might migrate, even over the sea.

The research looked at how physics influenced biology, but later, they realised biology might also influence physics. How do different organisms make use of static electricity in the environment? As with most living creatures, bees carry an innate electrical charge. Hive swarms can change atmospheric electricity by 100 to 1000 volts, increasing the electrical force normally present at ground level. Other insects that swarm can do the same thing – such as locusts. Their influence is much greater than bees as they swarm in huge numbers, hence the Biblical references to locusts clouds devouring vegetation in a feeding frenzy.  One commenter at the end of the Tallbloke link asks, what is the charge level produced by humans in big cities? – or during mass events. The latter, I am thinking, might include religious meetings by such groups as the Shakers, pop venues and concerts, sporting occasions with large crowds in stadia, or even simply protests and rallies. Can the latter escalate into revolutions? Do the protesters currently making waves in Iran need to produce more electricity to enhance their impact? Did Billy Graham make use of electricity during his Earls Court crusades? One famous revival that broke out in Wales and described by Paul Devereux in his book Earth Lights [1982] began in a remote corner of mid Wales, near the coastal town of Towyn, with a low population density. However, it coincided with or was followed by ‘earth lights’, seen in the vicinity, which appear to be electrical in nature and sparked by movement in a nearby fault line. These included hovering ball lightning, a plasma like phenomenon. It should be noted that at the time there were plenty of mining operations and communities in the area, so not as quiet as nowadays. Was the revival  sparked by increased electricity in the environment – or was the ball lightning and earth lights perceived as an apparition of deity?

See also https://electrocultureboutique.com/fr/blog/post/insects-contribute-to-atmospheric-electricity.html … and the full article is at https://www.cell.com/iscience/fulltext/S2589-0042(22)01513-9

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