From Peace to Plague

Teresa Olson
By Teresa Olson July 31, 2017 14:33

titan-search-button

Search All Titan Machinery Equipment

comparespecs-btn

Compare Case IH Specs

warranty-button

warranty-button

Spanish Btn

fae

fae

Spacer

 

camoplast

The preferred choice for farmers of Agricultural Tracks

We’re all familiar with them…those pesky grasshoppers that never seem to know which direction they’re going to jump.  Ugh!  Definitely not one of my favorite insects.  I started musing about the differences between grasshoppers and locusts and found some interesting information that I wanted to share with you.  They’re actually both grasshoppers- species of the Acrididae family.  But locusts have a swarming phase that can happen under suitable conditions of drought followed by rapid vegetation growth.  These circumstances trigger serotonin in their brains which sets off dramatic changes in color, breeding and feeding, and their solitary behavior changes to what entomologists call gregarious . Overcrowding then occurs and the transformation of the locust to the swarming form is brought about by several contacts between insects per minute over a four-hour period.

We all know what happens then…

Take a look at the video below and imagine, if you can, being in the midst of a locust swarm and the devastating plague that ensues.

For U.S. agriculture, the past holds some episodes of this activity.  The Rocky Mountain locust periodically hit farmers from California to Texas to Minnesota.  In 1875 the largest swarm in history was recorded over the Midwest – 198,000 square miles (California covers nearly 164,000 square miles).  It was estimated to contain several trillion locusts and most likely weighed  several million tons.  Farmers tried in vain to fight the swarms with fires and metal scoops covered with tar or molasses.  Wild West Magazine wrote:

The locusts soon scoured the fields of crops, the trees of leaves, every blade of grass, the wool off sheep, the harnesses off horses, the paint off wagons and the handles off pitchforks…The locusts, farmers grimly quipped, “ate everything but the mortgage.”

But only 27 years after this record swarm the Rocky Mountain locust was extinct with the last sighting recorded in 1902.  The reason?  Scientists debate about it, but the general conclusion points towards farmers. They put more and more acreage under the plow which prevented the land from being a host to locust eggs.

But not even extinction can guarantee that these events will never happen again.  On July 31, 1931, a swarm of grasshoppers destroyed millions of acres in Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota – already in the midst of a bad drought.

Since this time, swarms have not been seen in the United States.  If I had to pick a grasshopper over a locust, I guess I’d stick with the solitary species…

-Terry Olson, Titan Outlet Store Team

Resources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Locust

http://www.westernfarmpress.com/blog/locust-swarms-bring-back-past-us-farmers

http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/grasshoppers-bring-ruin-to-midwest

 

Teresa Olson
By Teresa Olson July 31, 2017 14:33
Write a comment

No Comments

No Comments Yet!

Let me tell You a sad story ! There are no comments yet, but You can be first one to comment this article.

Write a comment
View comments

Write a comment

Your e-mail address will not be published.
Required fields are marked*