#178 Rocky Mountain Locust

Extinct

This is a perfect one for the pest week.


There is so much absolutely fascinating information I could find about the destruction these caused, that I don't think I will have much need to share anything other than the stuff about the locust.


Their swarms would darken the sky, blotting out the sun for 5 days. They were mentioned by Laura Ingalls in one of her books. "The cloud was grasshoppers. Their bodies hid the sun and made darkness" and then they essentially ate all the wheat. The swarms caused over $200,000,000.00 damage in just about 4 years in the 1800's...and I think that is what it was worth then, which would mean it was over $4,200,000,000.00 in damage now. The biggest swarm covered an area the size of California! They didn't just eat crops either, they would eat almost anything organic...though sometimes for some reason they would leave pea plants alone. They would eat leather, wool still on the sheep, and even clothes while people were wearing them. Farmers would cover their crops with fabric, and they would just eat through it. Farmers would surround their fields with smoky fires and the grasshoppers would land on them in large enough numbers that they would put the fires out and still the majority of the swarm would be alive to eat everything. They ate a 15 acre field of crops in just 3 hours according to some accounts. They even made trains have to stop because so many squished ones made the trains unable to get any traction on the rails. Some people started eating the grasshoppers because really, there was nothing else. Some people did end up starving though too unfortunately. The Locust came in waves, they'd be there, then would go away for maybe 9 years and not be a problem. Then, in less than 20 years, they were completely gone. It was 1902 when the last one was seen alive. Scientists don't actually know why they went extinct.

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