Army worm - truly rare phenomenon in nature

Submitted by Looduskalender EN on Thu, 04.08.2016 - 10:16

Video Eda Kuusk Männiste
Translation Liis 


Observation point near the Jõuga lakes, in East Viru County


The probably first video record of this phenomenon in Estonia is not perfect quality but has a documentary value in showing the variety of behaviour among species in our nature. Such a phenomenon is relatively rare.

What then is it about?

We may have to do with the maggots or larvae of the dark-winged fungus gnat /Sciara militaris/,  with a dark head and a  semi-translucent body, about 7 mm long. Habitat humid decaying matter in forests. As imagos the  gnats lok like ordinary mosquitoes but in this story we have to do with the larvae.

What makes the larvae move like this?

Is it hungry larvae that have started moving or do they look for a suitable place for pupationn – the reason is not quite clear yet from researchers.

They join into a rope on which a mother-of-pearl sheen can be seen. During the formation new larvae join constantly and so up to 5 meters long migrating columns may be set up (in places even 15 m long rows have been seen). On moving, the column can split up at an obstruction. The speed of movement is about half a metre per hour. After some time the column breaks up. The phenomenon has been noted from June until August.

It has been commented in the Eesti Loodus December issue 2004 by Mati Martin: LINK

In folk tales collected by Mall Hiiemäe people have tried to break up the column with their hands to obtain healing properties for the hands. Read yourself: LINK (in Estonian)

Folklore: LINK (in Estonian)

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