Love is in the air and everything goes crazy. No matter how well we think we know the natural world around us, animal romantics in love can still surprise us. In some cases, they might just scare the living hell out of us.
They say love makes you do crazy things, insane things, things you’d never do in a million years. But, after you get bit by the love bug… there you are doing them.
The same is true for many creatures in love on this planet. And some of their ideas of romance can catch you by surprise in the most bizarre way.
Shocking, creepy, scary. You better watch out..
Let’s take a look at some of nature’s off the wall animal romantics. The creatures in love that are the cause of crazy stories, like eerie vibrations and fatal attraction that can bring an entire city to a halt.
Animal romantics swarm the Great Lakes
Early summer of 2010 the shores of Lake Erie turned from a beautiful place of tranquility into a scene straight out of a horror movie.
Winged insects filled the air, forming a huge swarm of billions of creatures in love. The swarm was so large that it stretched for nearly 2 miles inland and quite a few more along the western shore.
Insects covered every surface of the city, and residents felt trapped in buildings and cars. Anyone brave enough to go outside felt the attack of insects bumping into their hair and clothing. Their feet created crunching sounds with no way to avoid stepping on insects with every step they took.
This lasted for a few days. Then, suddenly, the insects started dying in their billions, filling the air with a stench of motor oil and vomit. Where ever insects had been flying or occupying a surface, they dropped dead to the ground. The dead bodies piled up so deep that authorities had to clear the roads with snow plows.
Animal romantics just dying for love
What kind of insects are they, and why create such havoc?
The culprits are the Western Lake Erie Mayflies. And the huge swarms are the result of a crazy survival technique.
Mayflies live as aquatic larvae in the mud at the bottom of ponds and rivers for about 2 years. There, all they do is eat and grow. They mold above the mud and sometime around middle of May to June their plan to guarantee the survival of the species springs into action.
The insects emerge from the water to mate. In order to keep getting eaten by predators they thousands after thousands break through the surface at once. Some hungry birds might catch a few here and there, but the sheer number of flying insects is even too much for big bird to catch at once. Thus billions make it out to mate.
After about 2 days a funnel-like swarm has formed into which the females take a dive in order to mate. Once they mated, the males drop dead and the females head back out over the water. Once there, they drop the fertilized eggs and join their male partners in the land of the dead.
Why so many at Lake Erie?
As it happens, Lake Erie provides the type of sediment the Mayfly likes to burrow into. Then it all changed and they disappeared due to the pollution of the lake. Lake Erie did not see Mayflies for many years. But after the water had been cleaned up, the big size of the lake attracted the Mayfly to return. Only this time with a vengeance of numbers and abundance.
While the event repeats itself every year, there is no way to prepare for it. The timing of this mass emergence of these animal romantics is still a mystery to the locals. It is unpredictable when exactly they’ll invade within that 2 or 3 week period. It might be related to storms or rains, but somehow the insects know when to emerge all at once.
So, when planning a trip to Lake Erie… be prepared to be surprised by creatures crazy in love.
Spring and summers are full of surprises. See which caterpillars to stay away from.
This next event takes place in Sausalito. A city in California, just across the Golden Gate strait from San Francisco, with an exclusive neighborhood for houseboats.
During the day the residents enjoy the peaceful tranquility around them, but during the summer months, the peace and quiet disappears with the sun. It is replaced by a low hum. Residents likened the sound to a low flying flock of B-52s, or a low flying jet aircraft. With that sound continuing all night long, some of the home owners got very angry. After all, they had spent about a half million dollars for a houseboat to live in peace and quiet. And the place was robbing them of their sleep.
In the past nobody living there was willing to admit they heard anything. But later, wealthier people began to move into the neighborhood and voiced their anger over the disrupting nightly humming noise.
Suspicions ran high as to the origins of the sound. From phone systems acting up to pacemakers going off at the same time to secret Navy operations, anything was possible in the minds of the residents. Some theorized that the city officials ran the sewer pump during the night to prevent tourists from witnessing the sewage in downtown Sausalito. They were convinced it had to be something electrical, because when putting their hands around the light poles they could feel them vibrating with the sound.
Solving the mystery of the sound
After the angry high class residents created enough noise, California sent in experts to find the cause of the disturbing humming sound.
They searched for a year, analyzing sound waves and tested quite a number of ridiculous theories, but came up with nothing. Finally they decided to call Biologist Professor John MacOscar. “I received a call from the head of the noise abatement bureau,” MacOscar confirms. “He asked is it possible that a fish could make so much noise that he keep people awake? He played the noise and I said ‘Oh, yeah. It’s the humming fish.’”
“They do that during the summer. Starts probably about sundown and ends about daybreak.” MacOscar explains. “I did find the culprit. That was the easy part, but convincing the city of Sausolito that it was a fish was a lot more difficult, because people just did not want to believe it. But it is the humble Humming Toad fish.”
The toad fish is rather remarkable in its appearance, and also in its behavior when kissed by the love bug.
It lives in the mud and sand at the bottom of waters, and like many other fish, it uses sound to attract a mate. While other fish may grind their teeth, or slap their bodies against water, or even use their swim bladder to get attention, the toad fish amplified his swim bladder in an amazing way.
The swim bladder exists in most bony fish, and it is filled with air to regulate buoyancy. This way the fish don’t have to waste energy swimming. Inside the toad fish. however, certain modifications assist in turning the bladder also into a powerful noise box. It consists of very strong muscles along the sides inside the swim bladder. And these animal romantics can vibrate as many as 150 times/second. With it a hum is created that can be heard from far away.
Why can these animal romantics only be heard during summer?
Although the toad fish lives in the Ocean, they prefer shallow waters to make their nests. So at the beginning of the summer they swim into the bay and make their nests against large rocks and wooden structures. Since the water is kind of murky and dark, they use their amplified swim bladder to attract the females with their serenades.
Watch the video below to see and hear the toad fish.
The next weird event created by creatures in love is somehow connected with the number 13, and comes from deep under ground.
Invasion of the ghostly, red-eyed army
Nashville, Tennessee has its share of insects filling the air with buzzing sounds as soon as springtime arrives. But in 2011 the buzz turned into a loud sound that peaked at over 100 decibels. Imagine being a a deafening loud rock concert that goes non-stop for about 5 weeks.
Nashville turned into a war zone, and the invaders were almost 10 million strong. That is, 10 million of animal romantics.
Wave after wave they came from straight out of the ground and terrified the residents. Anyone using a power tool was immediately attacked. Some of the residents were brave enough to get their video cameras and start recording.
The invaders were an army of insects. An army of completely harmless Cicadas, but powerful enough to scare the living daylight out of anyone when they emerge en masse to mate. And bring the entire city to a halt.
Video shows The Return of the Cicadas
What caused such an unusual plaque of insect invaders?
Scientists found that these were not the usual cicadas that Tennessee gets to see every year. This species is totally different and known as periodical cicadas. These creatures in love emerge only every 13 years and then in plaque-like numbers. Emerging en masse helps to ensure the survival of the species. As the first one emerge their natural predators go on a binge eating spree. As they get too full to eat more, the second and more waves arrive on the surface of the ground to reproduce.
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What’s up with the 13 year pattern?
Scientists explain it like this, “13 is a prime number. Which means it can only be divided by itself and 1. And this seems to be really important, because predators and parasites on the same 2, 3, or 4 year life cycle keep missing the cicadas emergence. So, those cicadas have a much better chance of surviving.”
Looks like the number 13 is a lucky number for these animal romantics. But why do they have to wait so long deep underground for romance to happen?
“They live down there feeding, growing, molting, and getting ready for their emergence. They only emerge from the ground to transform into adults and sing, mate, lay eggs and die.” Scientists say.
“Finally, in their 13th year they are ready to crawl up into the light. Their mission to find a mate and breed. But to do this it needs an important last minute addition: wings.”
But why attack residents that are using power tools? Seems the answer might be the reason why they invaded Nashville in the first place.
“The males gather in trees in large numbers calling them chorusing centers. It’s almost like a singles bar.” A scientist explains. “Here, they all try to out sing each other, hoping to win the affections of the females. But vibrating on the same frequency as the male’s deafening love song is your average power tool.” A case of mistaken identity. Fatal attraction, I’d say.
This video shows how Cicadas react to power tools.
The residents of Nashville and other places in Tennessee don’t see them as a plaque. They have taken cicadas to their hearts, and are actually celebrating their arrival, and writing songs about them. Lots of songs about animal romantics on their way to find true love.
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