New research shows that the common brain chemical serotonin triggers gregarious, swarming behavior in locusts. The study, published in Science, says that when the normally solitary insects come together, the sight, smell and touch of other locusts causes a spike in serotonin levels, turning them into social creatures.
Serotonin Boosts Sociability In Locusts
Scientists discovered that the common brain chemical serotonin triggers the transformation of locusts from solitary insects into gregarious, swarming groups. In the lab, they injected one group of locusts with serotonin, and those locusts became more sociable. The other group, injected with a serotonin blocker, remained solitary and nonsocial. Scientists hope that one day they might be able to send chemical signals that would keep locusts in their solitary phase and prevent them from damaging crops.