Clive Spinage has written an informative history “Locusts: The Forgotten Plague Part II: History of Locust Plagues“, (AFRICAN ECOLOGY. 2012:533-569) including quotes from historical records of locust plagues in Europe, Asia and Africa. Locusts were discussed by a number of historical scholars including Aristotle, Pliny and Saint Augustine. Locust plagues still exist, but they are sporadic. In our 24 h news cycle that focuses on the latest controversy, Locusts splash across the headlines for a few days before departing the news as quickly as a locust horde that has finished eating.
There are numerous historical reports of locust swarms in Europe, even in remote locations such as Scotland. Southern European countries such as Spain and Italy are more vulnerable to the modern migrants. The nations of Europe give foreign aid to African countries to suppress locust populations in Africa in order to prevent the formation of large swarms that might invade Europe. Occasionally, these efforts are not enough and locusts do considerable damage to European crops. 2004 was an outbreak year for locusts with swarms from Africa reaching parts of Europe and out into the Atlantic to the remote Canary Islands. Like a scene from the movie,”Locusts”, “Shocked vacationers barricaded their holiday apartments – hardly surprising, as they weren’t exactly in the mood to watch this miracle of nature. The media responded with headlines screaming, “Locusts Turn Holiday Into Horror Trip”.Scientists, who have a longer focus than the popular press, continue to research the desert locust. Predicting where the swarms will migrate is high on the list because locusts can do considerable damage before measures to control them can be properly staged. Wind patterns have a strong influence on migration making predictions uncertain. Scientists continue to study locust physiology and behavior looking for weaknesses that can be exploited to improve management of locusts. Locusts may be the “Forgotten Plague”. However, they are only forgotten until the next outbreak.