The unexpected mass casualties of the 7.1 magnitude earthquake in California have been revealed as bees, according to one social media influencer who discovered them. Experts believe the huge quake somehow disrupted the Earth’s magnetic fields which the bees rely on for navigation leading to mass confusion, effective paralysis and death. YouTube sensation Khalil Underwood uploaded footage of thousands of dead bees lining his driveway outside his Californian home following the USA quake. Friday night’s mammoth tremor rocked the Mojave Desert near the town of Ridgecrest south of Death Valley National Park, causing widespread fires and gas line ruptures.
It followed on the back of a 6.4 quake in the same region 34 hours earlier.
No casualties were reported – but now it bizarrely appears the earthquake somehow triggered the death of huge numbers of bees.
Khalil captured a snapshot of what is believed to be a wider problem in a shocking video of black dead insects dotting his driveway.
The few live ones lay twitching or madly circling around buzzing before dying.
A freaked-out Khalil told his 314,000 Twitter followers: “This is crazy. I’ve never witnessed anything like this.
“Look how many f***ing bees are on the f***ing floor from the earthquake.”
He initially wrote there was “like 70 on the floor just buzzing & dying” but updated the number to thousands in a post next day, later justifying the numbers.
He wrote: “I wasn’t exaggerating or joking….. after the Earthquake thousands of bees were vibrating on the floor and dying…. this shit was so crazy to me.”
Many people responded in a Twitter thread exclaiming shock at what had happened.
Lots of theories about what had happened were shared – some suggested the quake had distorted the magnetic fields the bees’ brains were reliant on leaving them confused.
Others suggested they had evacuated their hive in a panic but were prevented from returning by aftershocks.
Did the earthquake cause the bees to die?
The honest answer is that scientists do not really know for sure.
There have been plenty of accounts of animals and insects acting strangely before an earthquake.
One Taiwan study found two major earthquakes in 1999 and 2002 had a catastrophic even on insect communities, resulting in “large declines in total individual number but also total species number of insects”.
Insects living underground or in underwater sediments were most affected, according to the three-year study examining the 7.3-magnitude and 6.8-magnitude quakes.
The United States Geological Survey (USGS) has previously said it is “possible” a “seismic-escape response” may have evolved from animals’ natural instincts to escape predators.
While acknowledging much more research needs to be done, the USGS website says: “An instinctive response following a P-wave seconds before a larger S wave is not a “huge leap”, so to speak, but what about other precursors that may occur days or weeks before an earthquake that we don’t yet know about?
“If in fact there are precursors to a significant earthquake that we have yet to learn about (such as ground tilting, groundwater changes, electrical or magnetic field variations), indeed it’s possible that some animals could sense these signals and connect the perception with an impending earthquake.”
In the case of Khalil Underwood’s footage, it is impossible to know at what moment the bees died and what ultimately caused their demise.
American scientists even remain sceptical as to whether animals can even reliably predict or sense the arrival of earthquakes.
Andy Michael, a USGS geophysicist told National Geographic: “”What we’re faced with is a lot of anecdotes.
“Animals react to so many things—being hungry, defending their territories, mating, predators—so it’s hard to have a controlled study to get that advanced warning signal.”