Carolina Locust (Dissosteira carolina)

Pricing: Dead (spread, as pictured): $20
Geographic Range: Eastern U.S.A.
View: Top View  Sex: Female
Size: Length (excluding antennae and legs): 35-50 mm

Availability Notes: Specimens also available with wings closed.

Image Copyright 2003
Barbara Strnadova

Although it is called a locust, Dissosteira carolina it is not considered very destructive. Common along roadsides and in dry fields, it feeds mostly on grasses and herbaceous plants. Ironically, the species of locust that caused the much devastation in the U.S.A is now extinct. Called the Rocky Mountain Locust (Melanoplus spretus), they plagued settlers in the western parts of the U.S.A. during the 1800's. A swarm that swept across the country in 1875 was the largest recorded locust swarm: 1,800 miles long and 110 miles wide. An account of a swarm which crossed the Rocky Mountains, heading east, in the summer of 1874 tells of total devastation. Cultivated crops were consumed in their entirety; grain, fruit, vegetables - even bulbs and roots, eaten right out of the ground (a favorite was onions). After the tasty stuff was consumed they ate the grasses, weeds, and even the foliage and bark of trees. When everything green was eaten they attacked wood, leather, and even cloth, chewing on clothing still worn by the inhabitants of the besieged settlements. Typically this took only a few days and then, in a clatter of wings, they were off to strip bare yet another swath of cultivated earth. Last collected alive in 1902, it is thought that continuous agriculture pushed them into extinction. Since locusts lay their eggs in soil and the area were they lived was intensely farmed, their eggs were eventually plowed up and destroyed! It just goes to show how something that seems invulnerable can quickly disappear. In other countries, mainly in Africa, locusts are still a problem and swarms covering 2000 square miles have been recorded several times. A swarm that size contains about 400 billion individuals, can weigh around 500 thousand tons, and is capable of consuming in a single day the amount of food equal to that eaten in one day by the combined inhabitants of New York, London, Los Angeles, and Paris.