Posted in Science & Nature


Locusts are a well-known symbol of destruction. The path of a locust swarm is bound to be left bare with nothing in sight. The most amazing feature of this insect is its reproductive abilities, which can be considered explosive. Furthermore, increased tactile stimulation of a locust’s hindleg causes it to release a neurotransmitter called serotonin, which causes mutual attraction, change of colour and increased consumption of food, thus priming them for reproduction. This allows them to reproduce even faster as the population grows, letting it easily reach numbers of billions in a short time. A large population then causes the locusts to swarm and migrate, and some species can cover distances of up to 500km. These swarms have been known to cover over 1000 square kilometres of land, and any food source in its path is instantly eaten up and used as fuel for reproduction. Because of this, locusts have become an icon of horror and destruction since ancient times as it can destroy crop fields within a matter of hours. This symbol is employed by the bible also, for example as the eighth plague of Egypt.

In some ways, a locust swarm can be seen as natural selection at its best. Explosive reproduction and voracious appetite is the basics of survival, skills that allow a species to beat the fierce competition of “the survival of the fittest”. Although humans curse locusts for destroying crop, they are not the only species that breed thoughtlessly and consume all resources in their path.