Eclipse Animals

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Eclipse Animals

Colonial orb-weaver spiders may have some extra work to do on Monday, during a total solar eclipse. During an eclipse in 1991, scientists watched as spiders in Mexico began tearing down their webs as the sky darkened — something they do every evening. When the Sun returned, most of them rebuilt their webs, just as they do every morning.

That’s just one example of how life reacts to eclipses. Like the spiders, many daytime animals start their evening rituals. And many nighttime animals wake up when the eclipse gets started.

During the 2017 eclipse, scientists watched 17 species at a zoo in South Carolina. About three-quarters of the species had some response as the eclipse reached its peak. Some animals acted nervous, while others headed for bed. Some gibbons moved and chattered in ways the zookeepers had never seen before.

Other studies have reported that bats and owls sometimes come out during totality — when the Sun is fully eclipsed. Hippos move toward their nighttime feeding grounds. Bees have been seen to return to their hives and not budge until the next day. And mosquitoes come out — ready to dine on unsuspecting eclipse watchers.

A NASA project is using volunteers to learn more about how animals react. It collected recordings and observations during last year’s annular eclipse, and will repeat the observations this time — telling us more about how the natural world reacts to the vanishing Sun.

Script by Damond Benningfield

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