Whether it’s a crowd of people looking up at the sky through odd glasses or traveling around to chase celestial phenomena, eclipses have a definite effect on humans. But, do they also affect animal and plant behavior? Scientists say yes.
If you’re curious about solar eclipse effects on plants and animals, Rainbow Symphony has the answers you’re looking for. We’re always continuing our efforts to learn as much as possible about how every type of eclipse could be affecting our world! Explore this blog from our team to discover what an eclipse does to plants as well as domesticated and wild animals.
Solar Eclipse Effects on Pets
Most animals have very consistent reactions to day and night. Their behavioral patterns closely follow natural cycles of light and dark. While domesticated animals generally follow along with the behavior of their owners — using human schedules as a marker for their own routines — an eclipse can cause a disruption in the normal patterns of their activities.
Most cats and dogs don’t react to an eclipse at all until its totality. At this point, many dogs and cats become a little spooked. This reaction could be because their internal clocks and the routines of their humans don’t indicate that it is nighttime, yet the sky and temperature tell their instincts that it is the middle of the night. Dog behavior is much more transparent than cat behavior, but that has more to do with their personalities than the solar eclipse’s effects.
Next time there’s an eclipse that’s visible in your region, check in with your pet to see how they respond. Some animals may act like there’s an earthquake or fireworks going off, while others suddenly decide it’s time to eat dinner and beg for food.
Solar Eclipse Effects on Farm Animals
From domestic chickens to horses, the sky darkening definitely sees a reaction from most farm animals. However, many of them are actually responding to the change in temperature rather than the change in light.
If an eclipse occurs on a particularly warm day, once the sun gets blocked, the temperature cools rapidly. Most farm animals begin performing their evening or nighttime rituals, like grooming, sleeping, or eating.
Solar Eclipse Effects on Wild Animals
Birds of a Feather
The effects of a solar eclipse on insects and birds are perhaps the most notable. From cicadas to robins, the moment before an eclipse totality is louder than usual. There’s more buzzing, chirping, and chattering than at any other hour of the day. Then, once the eclipse hits its totality, everything falls silent. Some birds also change their song patterns, while others may fly in odd formations.
All the Fish in the Sea
Another strange effect of an eclipse changes fish behavior completely. Anecdotal evidence from a number of sources claims that fish start biting at lures right before a totality. Scientists think that this behavior may be because fish feed during the early morning and evening. With the darkening of the skies, they may become confused — thinking that dusk was falling and that it was time to eat, leading to more bites.
The Nature of the Beast
Many wild animals also respond to solar eclipses because they are crepuscular. Any animal that’s most active during dusk and dawn, including deer, bison, porcupines, rabbits, coyotes, and more, is going to react to a darkening sky. Their instincts are telling them that it’s time to begin their routine for the evening — searching for food, grooming, and preparing for sleep.
Solar Eclipse Effects on Plants
Since the sun is a plant’s primary source of food, many have a definitive reaction to the changes in light and temperature. Plants who close their petals at night, like morning glories and hibiscus flowers, react as if it was dusk. Scientists conducting experiments on plants during solar eclipses also saw a significant decrease in photosynthesis and transpiration.
The real effects of an eclipse on plants, though, became apparent when the sun came back. The plants weren’t prepared for such a major interruption to their circadian rhythm! Scientists recorded major disruptions in photosynthesis pathways that ended up reducing a plant’s total food production for the day. Plants who experienced a solar eclipse managed between 10-20% less photosynthesis than they would have if there hadn’t been an interruption in light.
There are also other, more visible effects of a solar eclipse on plants, such as:
- Changes in Sap Flow
- Less Release of Water
- Drooping Leaves
- Opening or Closing Buds
More Than Just An Eclipse
As the next big eclipse approaches, you might want to spend some time considering how the plants and animals around you will react. While the disappearing sun offers a fascinating view, it might be just as interesting to study your pets or plants and see what they do! If the solar eclipse has an effect that’s unique and interesting, record it and show it to the world!