The Strangest Natural Events On This Planet

From the weirdest storms to the animals behaving in peculiar ways, and from various plagues and swarms to the strange strandings of thousands of creatures. What on Earth is going on? See the strangest natural events that happen on this planet.

What happens when creatures behave in bizarre ways

Alien invasion or just the Ermine moth?

Picture waking up in the morning and you find everything outside covered in giant webs. The first thing that jumps to mind is alien invasion. Giant spiders from outer space visited Earth and spun their webs to catch us all. But no, the culprit is no other than the Ermine moth.

In order to protect themselves from being picked off by birds during their lunch hour they spin sticky silk webs around plants and trees. This way they can eat in peace, while their predators can’t do anything but watch from outside. They are also quite common and it is not unusual to find an occasional tree or a row of plants caught in their webs. What makes it unusual is a population explosion caused by exceptionally favorable environmental conditions, which can lead to what happened in 2009 Rotterdam. Take a look.

Biting my tongue

How is this for strange natural events? Yes, it’s completely natural to have a tongue replacement for some fish. Some restaurant owners can tell a tale of finding this surprise. It certainly is one of Nature’s scary side of life and death.

The tongue-eating louse (Cymothoa exigua) is the only parasite that is known to functionally replace a hosts organ. The parasite severs the blood vessels in the fish’s tongue, which causes the tongue to fall off. It then attaches itself to the stub of the tongue and becomes the fish’s new tongue.

The fish are able to use the parasites as a tongue, but end up becoming underweight. After all, now they have more mouths to feed.

Now if the little things in life can have such an enormous impact, take a look at the really big stuff.

Strangest natural events produce storms like never seen before

A little bit of magic in the middle of winter

What made a city look like it was build on another planet? One wintry morning, the citizens of Versoix, Switzerland woke up to one of the strangest natural events they had ever seen. Or was it magic? Overnight their town was transformed into an eerie, but beautiful ice sculpture. Everything was coated in a thick glaze of ice. Park benches and trees made a beautiful scenery, but the icy roads stopped any possible traffic for a while. Car owners tried desperately to free their cars from their frozen cover. And boat owners were left with a sinking feeling as the weight of the ice started to capsize their yachts.

Freezing temperatures combined with strong winds produced this extraordinary event. The whip topped waves hitting the shore simply froze on the spot and the results were nothing short of wondrous. It took more than a week before the ice thawed. Take a look. It almost looks as stunning as Earth’s natural wonders.

If this chilled you, the next one will have you gasping.

The dust storm you can taste

The people in Sydney, Australia thought they woke up on Mars in 2009. Their city had changed color overnight. Everything was drenched in red, almost the color of blood, including the sky. Just like the city was on the red Mars, instead of the blue Earth. What on Earth happened?

Turns out it that it was iron-rich, deep red dust from Australia’s Outback, 2 and half thousand kilometers away. Usually dust storms in Australia’s Outback are short lived and last only about 30 minutes. They are then followed by rain and everything clears up. But this time it came with a punch.

The wind in the Outback was atrocious, with sand cutting skin on anyone caught in the middle of it. If you can taste a dust storm and feel it in your teeth, you know you are in a one of a good size. The mother of all dust storms whipped 16 million tons of dust into the air. With a size of 600 miles long and 300 miles wide this was by far the biggest and furthest travelled dust storm in recorded history. A monstrous cloud, the size of Spain rolled across Australia.

Less than 24 hours later it reached Sydney. Radio stations made light of this unusual event by playing songs with “dust” in them all that morning, since “All we are is dust in the wind.”

As climate change is ongoing, erratic weather events like these might just become more frequent. The next strangest natural events will have your skin crawling.

Plagues and swarms

Unusual weather events are often the root cause for stuff that looks like it comes from nightmares. The trigger for these plagues and swarms is an abundance of food caused by unusual weather conditions. And, when creatures bump together, it can create dramatic results. Climate change and environmental conditions are often the cause for rare genetic mutations you can find in Nature. Let’s hope it will not be the case with the following pests.

World record of the worst mouse plague ever recorded

The strangest natural events often happen in Australia. Like this mouse plague, for instance. Mouse plagues are nothing new for South Australia. Like Western China, South Australia gets hit with it every time when above average rainfall and mild winter perfect conditions produce an abundance of food. It literally kick starts the mouse population into producing lots and lots of offspring.

Although mice exist all over the planet the only places they turn into a plague are Southern Australia and Western China. The reason could be that mice are not native to these countries, but introduced by ships. In their native countries they are an important part of the long established natural food chain and provide many species of predators with a daily snack. The number of mice certainly outweighs the number of their natural predators by far in these two countries. So, when conditions are right, nothing can stop the mice. Take a look.

The colorful little Lady

Most gardeners welcome this little red bug. They prove to be very helpful in ridding the plants of aphids, which are real pests when it comes to crops and other plants. Ladybugs eat aphids, mealybugs and other pests that can ruin the plants. But for one town in Colorado, the cute, little helpers turned into a red nightmare.

In the summer of 2009 a small Colorado community awoke to see their town painted in red. The trees looked like they had red bark. It was a sheer invasion of tens of millions ladybugs crawling all over trees and plants. So, what caused this sudden boom of ladybugs?

That year, Colorado experienced an unusual wet spring, which was followed by a soggy summer. This created the perfect conditions for bumping the aphids population. Of course, this provided the ladybugs with an all-you-can-eat buffet, and more food means more ladybug babies. So when these, now mega, families of ladybugs were ready for migration, they came in mega swarms. Have a look.

The uncontrollable and unstoppable

If you consider moving to Australia be prepared for the strangest natural events to arrive right at your doorstep. Australians are used to swarms of locusts to plague their country. After all, they happen every two or three years. Except for the year of 2010. That year the country saw the biggest locust plague ever recorded. This should have even the toughest of you jumping.

The locust starts out as a harmless grasshopper. Since grasshoppers love the solitude of being single, they just hate being touched. The change from Grasshopper to flying swarm locust is triggered by close contact and touching other locust. High winds and lots of rainfall brings them together. At this stage they still lack wings and all they can do is hop, moving across the country like an army. After five weeks, when their wings are ready, they are capable of covering large distances. This is the start of a real nightmare for farmers.

In 2010 more than one billion locust moved over an area twice the size of the UK and created mayhem in Southern Australia. Swarms are uncontrollable and unstoppable breeding and eating machines. This swarming plague moved from field to field and gobbled up the crops in high speed. What drives this mass migration are actually not the crops, but cannibalism.

The locust crave protein and the closest source of protein happens to be the locust right in front of them. Basically they are trying to get away from becoming lunch while trying to catch lunch. The plague lasted 12 months and cost Australia’s farmers 2 billion dollars in lost crops.

When sea creatures end up at the wrong place at the wrong time

The biggest wreck

Starfish are beautiful creatures that come in all sorts of different colors. They live under water and if you happen to come across one while taking a stroll on the beach, there is a good chance it is already dead. Now imagine the surprise of beach goers when they come across thousands of starfish that were washed up on their beach.

For the UK this is nothing new. To them, it happens once or twice a year. The british call these events “wrecks.” Although for these strange natural events to happen it requires a combination of events. After the starfish mate they are weakened. All it takes is a nasty Atlantic storm to wash them up onto the beach. Exhausted and battered they are unable to make their way back into the water and die on the beach.

When oceans turn cold

In 2011 the unusual cold weather had once again an effect on the ocean, and twenty five thousand velvet swimming crabs ended up dead along Thanet coast. The crabs were unable to deal with the severe cold and died of hyperthermia. At that time, this phenomenon happened for the third year in a row. The prior year the total number of crabs washing up dead was about 40,000.

Whale strandings still unexplained

The strange natural events of whale strandings happen occasionally wherever whales are present. The reason for the strandings is not yet fully understood.

strange natural events
Image – Daily Mail, UK

The largest mass stranding occurred in 2009 and involved 200 whales who found themselves on the beach on King Island in Tasmania. What was unusual was not just the number of whales, but also the fact that there were some dolphins present as well. Scientists still don’t know why it happens, but they have some ideas.

There are many differences between dolphins and all the different species of whales, but what they all have in common is echolocation. Occasionally the prey flees to very shallow water and the whales can detect the closeness of the bottom with their underwater sonar. During storms, however, water and sand gets stirred up and their radar gets disrupted by sand. This makes them semi blind. Acoustic pollution caused by humans stands for another reason. During military activities, the Navy uses sonar in the oceans at the same level as whales and dolphins communicate. Thus creating a frightening muffling sound for the animals. But how much of the human activity is causing the mass strandings is debatable. After all, strandings have been happening long before humans used sonar.

Next up:

The sea that turns to cappuccino, massive holes that open up and swallow buildings, apocalyptic dance of birds. Click on 2 below to continue. 

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