When one thinks of a locust swarm we think of the Biblical Plagues, a divine intervention to punish humanity in a past far gone. But this biblical plague played out in the Great Plaines of the United States in a not so far gone past – the summer of 1875.
Keeping with the tales of past farmers watching in panic as the skies dimmed as trillions of locusts came over the horizon moving faster then any natural disaster, so quickly that people literally had to run for shelter to escape the swarms. Witnesses reported tress breaking under the weight of the insects, layers forming on the ground up to six inches thick, enough to clog the Great Slat Lake in Utah and form walls six feet high for two miles around the lake of brined dead locusts.
The swarm was speculated to hold over 3.5 trillion locusts and span over 198,000 square miles, larger than the state of California.
The locusts destroyed crops, killed poultry that gorged themselves on the insects and infested the soil with the sheer amount of eggs that were laid beneath the surface. These swarms were not caused as a punishment from God but as a mutation that occurs when a large number of grasshoppers are forced to live close to one another during times of drought, the proximity actually causes changes in the types of eggs that the females lay. The nymphs that hatch out of the mutated eggs grow longer wings; have the tendency to stay in large swarms and even change in size and color, causing huge migratory populations that no longer resemble grasshoppers.
Even more mysterious then their appearance was their sudden disappearance, by the turn of the century the Rocky Mountain Locust had died of completely and have not been seen alive since 1902, much to the relief of farmers everywhere.
you can get an idea of a locust swarm in this video:
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