Thursday, January 1, 2015

Animals can tell the coming of a natural calamity

Dr Abe V Rotor

1.When earthworms crawl out of their holes, a flood is coming.
This subterranean annelid has built-in sensors, a biblical Noah’s sense of a coming flood, so to speak. Its small brain is connected to clusters of nerve cells, called ganglia, running down the whole body length. These in turn are connected to numerous hair-like protrusions on the cuticle, which serve as receptor. When rain saturates the soil, ground water rises and before it reaches their burrows, they crawl out to higher grounds where they seek refuge until the flood or the rainy season is over. The more earthworms abandoning their burrows, the more we should take precaution.

Giant earthworm, UST campus. Photo taken
before Typhoon Lupit, October 17, 2009.
The poor creature was crossing a concrete
pavement on its way to higher ground. I
helped it find a safe home.

 2. Animals become uneasy before an earthquake occurs.
It is because they are sensitive to the vibrations preceding an earthquake. They perceive the small numerous crackling of the earth before the final break (tectonic), which is the earthquake. As a means of self-preservation they try to escape from stables and pens, seek shelter, run to higher grounds, or simply escape to areas far from the impending earthquake. Snakes come out of their abode, reptiles move away from the water, horses neigh and kick around, elephants seem to defy the command of their masters (like in the case of the 2004 tsunami in Sri Lanka). We humans can only detect such minute movements on our inventions such as the Richter Scale.

3.Dogs howl in the night at unseen spirits.
Dogs have keen sense of seeing, smelling and hearing, many times more sensitive than ours. Many animals such as members of the cat family - lions, tigers, and the domesticated cat – are equally, if not more sensitive, in the dark. They also have infrared vision that enhances their predatory habits. The limitation of our senses is the mother of many of our beliefs or superstitions.

4. Raining while the sun is out breeds insects.
Now and then we experience simultaneous rain and sunshine, and may find ourselves walking under an arch of rainbow, a romantic scene reminiscent of the movie and song, Singing in the Rain.  Old folks would rather grim with a kind of sadness on their faces, for they believe that such condition breeds caterpillars and other vermin that destroy their crops.

What could be the explanation to this belief? Thunderstorm is likely the kind of rain old folks are referring to. Warmth plus moisture is vital to egg incubation, and activation of aestivating insects, fungi, bacteria and the like. In a few days, they come out in search of food and hosts. Armyworms and cutworms (Spodoptera and Prodina), named after their huge numbers and voracious eating habit, are among these uninvited guests

5. When house lizards (butiki) are noisy, there is a guest coming.
My father used to tell me when I was a child, that if house lizards make loud and crispy calls, it’s likely that a visitor is coming.

How do lizards know? Some people attribute this to the house lizard’s habit of “kissing” the ground at dusk. But this has nothing to do with predicting a guest’s arrival. But we know that when a person is anticipating a guest he is extraordinarily keen, and thus become aware of anything happening in his surroundings – including the mating calls of lizards.

House lizards take a drink on the ground and return to their dwellings on top of trees, on ceilings and roofs where water is scarce. By the way lizards are common where there is a lot of insects they can feed on, such as areas around fluorescent lamps and street lights.

6. When jellyfish come to the surface of the sea there is an earthquake or tsunami coming. It is when the epicenter of an earthquake occurs under the sea that tsunami may follow. Marine animals as well as land animals can detect minute tremors preceding an earthquake. Because of this they seek for safe areas usually moving upward shallower waters. (NOTE: Such vibrations are generally imperceptible to humans. They are monitored by his invention, the Seismograph, instead.)

7. When cockroaches are flying about, there are plenty of fish to catch. This is not limited to cockroaches. Other insects do swarm at certain stages or seasons of the year. For example, termites swarm at the onset of the heavy rains (monsoon or habagat); honeybees swarm when the queen bee dies, or when a new queen is produced from an old hive. Gnats or gamu-gamu swarm when their population shoot up due to freedom from predators. Locusts coalesce and migrate if driven by drought that destroys their source of food. Fish are abundant when there are plenty of insects since insects constitute their main food.

8. Numerous leafhoppers (Nepothettix spp., Order Homoptera) smashed on the windshield while driving at night on the highway, means there is population buildup of this pest in the area. Leafhoppers attack rice and other crops in their growing and early maturing periods.

Unusual behavior of a school of fish is a sign of a coming earthquake. Bangkok, Thailand  

9· Ants move into the house for shelter of a coming strong rain or a typhoon. They even carry with them their young and eggs. Oftentimes some of the members of the colony bear wings. These are soldiers and workers ants which have grown wings in preparation for swarming.

10. A tree surrounded by fireflies during the night brings good luck.
Fireflies are biological indicators of a pristine environment and good weather. Letizia Constantino once wrote in Issues without Tears, a moving article –You don’t see fireflies anymore. It is reminiscent of Rachel Carson’s winning novel, Silent Spring, a story when the birds did not return one spring. It is all about man’s growing indifference in protecting the environment from pollution and many other abuses. ~

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