Locust Swarms and their Mathematical Models
Science Workshop—Fall 2018
OPEN TO THE PUBLIC | Many biological aggregations such as insect swarms, bird flocks, and fish schools emerge spontaneously from social interactions between their constituent organisms. Arguably the most consequential of these groups, locust swarms may contain billions of individuals and can disrupt agriculture, leading to massive famine and starvation. For example, a recent locust plague in West Africa destroyed $2.5 billion in crops; despite control efforts costing $400 million, crop losses exceeded 50% in some regions. Locusts are unusual in that they can exist in either of two social phases. In the solitarius phase, individuals seek isolation, having little impact on their environment. In contrast, insects in the gregarious phase seek crowds and form groups that may take flight, migrate large distances, and eat voraciously. In this nontechnical talk, I will present several studies highlighting the application of mathematics to understand the dynamics of locust swarms.
Everyone is welcome and snacks will be served.