(ORDO NEWS) — Scientists have estimated the magnitude of the charges that accumulate flocks of flying insects.
Each of them makes only a small contribution, but with sufficient abundance and density, they can affect atmospheric electricity no weaker than thunderclouds.
Atmospheric electricity is connected not only with thunder and lightning. The air is filled with electric fields of various origins.
They influence the formation of cloud drops, and spiders make long flights using weak charges on the threads of their web.
Insects carry them on their bodies and, if they gather in large flocks, they can have a significant effect on atmospheric electricity, comparable to the contribution of non-biological factors.
This conclusion was reached by biologists from the University of Bristol.
Ellard Hunting and his colleagues relied on previous data on the static charge that insects can accumulate. Depending on the size of the body, its value ranges from a billionth to a trillionth of a pendant.
In itself, this is quite insignificant, but at moderate altitudes – up to five kilometers – insects can gather in fairly large flocks, and their charges add up to much more significant values.
Their scientists evaluated using computer simulations.
In addition, the authors measured atmospheric electric fields both in the presence of numerous bee swarms and without them.
The work showed that the presence of swarms of insects can change electric fields by hundreds to thousands of volts per meter of height.
These figures are comparable with the values typical for non-biological charge accumulation processes, including thunderclouds. Moreover, with an increase in the number of flocks and its density, they grow even more.
In particular, huge concentrations of locusts, which can number tens of millions of individuals and cover hundreds of thousands of square kilometers, change the electric fields in the air especially noticeably.
Such swarms of flying insects can influence not only the behavior of other insects, the movement of water microdroplets and dust particles, but even the formation of clouds.
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