Locusts might seem like harmless little grasshoppers, and in many ways, they are like grasshoppers. They eat plants and they hop long distances on springy back legs. Just one locust can’t cause trouble. The problem is, locusts sometimes gather in big groups, or swarms. A swarm of locusts can stretch over 400 square miles in size and include billions of the hungry insects.
People have feared locust swarms for thousands of years. An approaching swarm looks like a big black cloud. As the swarm descends, the insects eat everything in sight – garden crops, flowers, grass and even clothes hanging on a clothes line. In poor desert countries, families can starve after locusts eat all their food.
Not So Fun Facts about Locusts for Kids
- One locust can eat its weight in plants every day. A swarm of locusts can eat up to 400 million pounds of plants each day!
- Locusts can travel long distances, so they can cause major damage. They’ve been known to fly from Africa to England!
- Locusts have even been known to swarm inside houses and eat the furniture!
- These pests have powerful jaws. The sound of a swarm of them eating can be heard from faraway.
- Some clever African tribes have learned to outsmart the locusts. When a swarm approaches, the tribe builds a big fire. The smoke confuses the locusts and they drop to the ground. The people catch them, roast them and eat them!
- Harmless: safe, causes no harm
- Springy: bouncy
- Swarm: large group
- Descend: come down
- Starve: become ill or die because of hunger
Learn More All About Locusts
Check out this video of how locusts perceive the signal to swarm:
A video explaining how locusts know they are to swarm.
Question: Do locusts live in the U.S?
Answer: Locusts live in almost every country, but they rarely cause serious damage here. In the 1800s, though, Mormon pioneers in Utah almost starved because of a locust swarm. Seagulls came and ate the locusts – saving the pioneers.