no, not a snake…

This was an amazing sight… it looked like a snake at first sight, but then it was pretty strange…

After a quick search based on a wild guess, it turned out to be larvae migrating, possibly some kind of a gnat larvae.

But why are these larvae moving like this?

You might guess that it has something to do with safety in numbers. While this might be part of the story, it turns out that there’s another really ingenious reason why these caterpillars climb over each other.

It’s a simple, but totally mind-blowing idea. Anyone who’s been on one of those endless moving walkways at airports knows that if you walk on a moving belt, you’ll get to the end faster. And so these caterpillars have essentially built a caterpillar-powered conveyor belt. Unlike a typical conveyor belt, this one never runs out, because the caterpillars keep disassembling and re-assembling it.

The really surprising thing is that this entire rolling swarm of caterpillars moves faster than any single caterpillar can.

Here’s the reason. Every caterpillar spends some time on each ‘floor’. At the ground floor, a caterpillar moves at normal speed. The next floor up, it’s moving at 2X speed, because the floor is moving forward and so is the caterpillar. The next layer up, it’s moving at 3X speed, because the floor is moving at 2X speed, and so on. Every single caterpillar has spent some time moving slowly in the first floor, and some time moving faster in the higher floors. On average, its speed is somewhere in between – faster than a lone caterpillar, but slower than the caterpillars on the top.

~ The science behind the swarm – WIRED

Taking a closer look…

Here they come across a line of ants… the ants don’t bother them and just get back on track on their scent trail once they pass on.

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