The Great Plains' Largest Natural Disaster: A Plague Of Locust

By | July 24, 2019

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A large swarm of locust can eat 100,000 metric tons of vegetation per day. AFP PHOTO/BILAL TARABEY. Source: (Photo credit should read BILAL TARABEY/AFP/Getty Images)

If you're up on your Bible, you know that when God was angry that the Pharaoh would not free the Israelites, he sent down a series of plagues to the people of Egypt. One of them was a plague of locusts to devour and destroy the crops of the region. This might sound like biblical fiction, but locusts—actually just common grasshoppers with anger issues and a mob mentality—really can band together in massive swarms that bring destruction to an area. In fact, the largest swarm of locust in recorded history didn’t happen in biblical times or faraway Egypt but the Great Plains of the United States in 1874 and 1875. The tremendous destruction these insects caused made it the largest, most widespread natural disaster to hit the Great Plains. 

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Technically, locusts are just grasshoppers that swarm together to cause destruction. Source: (

What are Locusts?

Locusts and grasshoppers are essentially the same things. Most of the time, the insects are solitary and docile, but occasionally, their swarming instincts are triggered. When this happens, grasshoppers are called locusts. Together, the insects can cause havoc for farmers, because much like the freeloading cousin who crashes on your couch every few months, they eat every bit of vegetation they happen upon.