What causes Plagues of Locusts

Everyone has heard of plagues of locusts in the bible, and most people associate plagues of locusts with the punishment of God, but most people don’t know that plagues of locusts are common occurrences. In fact plagues of locusts are just a phase that locusts go through. This article will discuss the life of the locust and the reason plagues of locusts occur.

Plagues of locusts have occurred in many places, and they case terrible grief and suffering. A well known occurrence of locust plagues happened in “the western United States” (Leokum, 986, p.65). This terrible plague is a natural happening, and it caused a lot of damage. The plague came about in “1874,” and it ended in “1876;” this plague caused “more than $200,000,000 worth of damage” (Leokum, 1986 p.65). Can you imagine that bugs that are smaller than our palms can cause such tremendous damage?

Locusts are actually a part of a large family of insects, and the name locust usually refers to the grasshopper family. Locusts are “actually any of a group of insects that belong to a family of “Acrididae,” and there is a “17 year locust is not really a locust but a cicada” (Leokum, 1986, p.65). Locusts are not one type of insect; there are many different types of locusts.

Locust plagues are mysterious because when the locusts are not living in great swarms they seem to disappear. This strange occurrence has been an interest to many scientists, and it seems that the locusts live in two phases. These two phases are very different, and this is the reason locusts seem to disappear when they are not in a swarm.

The first phase of the locust is a “solitary phase,” and locusts in the solitary phase are “sluggish” (Leokum, 1986, p.65).  The locust appears to be lazy when living along, and the colors of the locust match the surrounding area that the locust is living in. This phase for locusts is the normal, peaceful phase.

The second phase for locusts is the group phase. During this phase the locust appears “black and yellow,” and they are very “nervous and active;” the temperature of the locust during this phase is even higher (Leokum, 1986, p.65).  When many locusts are in a close area they become active and restless; this overcrowding is what causes locusts to switch phases. The gregarious locusts become “irritable,” and they start to group up; this is what causes the plagues of locusts we have heard of and fear (Leokum, 1986, p.65).

Plagues of locusts are a scary thing to worry about, and it is interesting that locusts are calm when they are alone. Next time you hear about God smite the people with plagues of locusts you will know the real cause.


Leokum, A. (1986). The Big book of tell me why. New York, NY: Grosset and Dunlap.