Locust Pied Piper of Hamelin
when solitary grasshoppers get very crowded their body produces the
chemical serotonin and they start to act like locust: fly in huge
swarms and eat everything in their path.
there are two ways to fight them today: chemical and biological. the
chemical is poisoning them and this costs a lot and hurts the
environment. the biological is infecting them with fungus but it
takes days to kill the locusts. in the phrase of "carrot or stick",
all the current and problematic solutions attack the locust with the
stick. my solution is tempting them with the carrot.
LOCUSTS ARE GUIDED BY CHEMICALS
then i read an article in the website of Food and Agriculture
Organization of the United Nations (FAO), about "Biological control
of locusts - New weapons for old enemies"
when the locusts are young they are called hoppers. they don't have
wings yet, so they walk on the ground. they also make swarms and eat
crops, but a research team has identified and synthesized a specific
locust pheromone, or chemical signal, that can be used against young
locusts with devastating effect.
This chemical called Phenylacetonitrile (PAN) is used by adult male
locust when they mate to deter other adult locust males. but when
this chemical is sprayed on the young hoppers, it stops hopper bands
dead in their tracks and make them break ranks. PAN caused the young
hoppers to resume solitary behavior. confused and disoriented, some
lost their appetite altogether, while others turned cannibal and ate
one other. any survivors were easy prey for predators.
so this of course has the problem that you have to locate them when
they're young, but this gave me the idea that the locusts are
affected mainly by chemicals or smell. The paper talks about a
satellite of the French Space Agency that might be able to track
them early on, but i invented a solution that doesn't need this.
MDMA CREATES SEROTONIN SO WE CAN GUIDE THE ADULT LOCUST
i'm sure you heard of the drug ecstasy or in its real name MDMA
the effects are similar on people, they like to be in big groups
called rave or dance parties and it's a stimulant that lets them
dance for hours like the insects can fly for hours.
you can see in the pictures here how MDMA binds to serotonin
transporters, which means the MDMA tie down and interrupts the work
of the part of out body that takes away the serotonin, so the result
is that the serotonin stays in the receptor all the time because of
So if we take MDMA and spray it in front of the flying locust swarm,
this is like spraying a very nice scent that they want to follow. we
need to affect the leaders and the rest will follow them.
we know that insects can get addicted to drugs too, so their
neurotransmitters work in a similar way.
if it turns out that the MDMA is not tempting enough we can tempt
them with smell of food or sex (female locust hormones) or supposing
they follow the other locusts by smell then we can use for the
leaders dust of grounded locusts and this would turn the leaders
into followers. i'm sorry i know it's disgusting but we are
preventing many human deaths here.
AIRPLANES THAT WORK IN SHIFTS DEPLOY DRONES THAT WORK IN SHIFTS
so we spray a continuous or periodic stream of the chemical ahead of
the swarm. this can be achieved with drones that are deployed from
an airplane, and when their electricity or their stock of chemical
is depleted (whichever comes first) the drones return to the
airplane to recharge and fill up with fresh stock. the airplane
itself when its fuel or supply is running low can signal the next
airplane to come and take its place. the cost of the damage of the
swarm of locust is much more than two airplanes and a few drones.
in the case that the locust need also a visual stimulus or guidance
from the Sun's position, we can make a plastic model of the insect
on each drone, but like plants already discovered for example "bee
insects can be fooled by smell which again means putting the right
chemicals in the air.
if we want to fool the insects about the position of the sun it is
also not very hard, they don't fly at night, and for them the Sun is
simply the brightest thing that they see. so we can keep a
reflection of the sun using larger mirrors again carried by drones,
in some distance from the swarm, and we can fool the leaders of the
swarm to follow our fake Sun which will be brighter than the actual
Sun because it's closer to the swarm than the actual Sun so it looks
bigger to them. just like insects are attracted to artificial light
at night, they are hardwired to navigate by the moon, and try to
keep a constant angle to this new artificial moon, and so they get
closer and closer in circle to the lamp. so again insects are easy
to manipulate with external stimulus.
TAKE THEM FOR MANY SPINS ABOVE THE SEA OR DEEP DESERT
at first i thought it's enough to lead the locust into the sea and
they will drown there or get tired and eaten by fish. but it's not
so simple, here is what the FAO article tells us:
During the 1988 desert locust plague, swarms crossed the Atlantic
from Mauritania to the Caribbean, flying 5000 kilometers in 10 days.
Scientists were stumped because migrating swarms normally come down
to rest every night. But locusts can’t swim, so how could it be?
It turned out that the swarms were coming down at sea – on any ships
they could find, but also in the water itself.
The first ones in all drowned but their corpses made rafts for the
other ones to rest on.
amazing! but anyway the method we talked about can take them in
circles for weeks if needed until they run out of energy and
cannibalize each other and when this resource is gone too then they