During the year of 1875 the largest recorded swarm of locusts in human history descended upon thousands of innocent people. The swarm was somehow measured, and amazingly, the swarm was eighteen hundred miles long and one hundred and ten miles wide. The calculated area of this swarm was just as large as the combined areas of Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont.
This enormous swarm of locusts badgered American Citizens, and destroyed many crops before they finally dispersed after twenty eight days grueling days of locust induced mayhem. These locusts are known as Rocky Mountain locusts (RML), and the last time any of these types of locusts were formally collected by researchers was back in 1902. Since that time, right as the swarm disappeared, nobody has laid eyes on a still living Rocky Mountain locust.
Many people who are not educated in the fields of biology or ecology simply assume that the RML went extinct as all of earth’s organisms do eventually, and there does not exist any mystery behind the sudden extinction. However, professional entomologists and biologists disagree with this line of thinking. It is actually quite bizarre to see an entire species disappear in an instant, especially when they are resilient bugs that have been thriving for millions of years.
In order to shed more light on the cause of the RML extinction many researchers point to the loss of buffalo that occurred at around the same time. The idea is that locusts lived and reproduced within bison wallows. Since bison populations decreased, locusts were out of a home. Experts also theorize that locusts died out as a result of a decrease in large scale controlled fires that used to be a normal part of pre-Columbian Native American culture. With the extreme decrease in Native American populations and their large fires, we also saw a decrease in locust populations. The truth of the matter may never be fully, or even partially, known.
Have you ever encountered a swarm of locusts?