Locust (Schistocerca Gregaria)
Proving date: October 2007
Proving completed by: Misha Norland, Peter Fraser & The School of Homeopathy
Common name: Locust
Read full proving here: Locust (Schistocerca Gregaria)
The Locust is hemitabolous, it moults several times each larval stage, or instar, is a little more like the adult form. Only the adult form, the imago, is able to fly; the nymphal forms move by jumping and are called hoppers. The hoppers can swarm but there are never mixtures of hoppers and adults. The female lays her eggs in the ground pushing them into the earth with her long adapted abdomen. The time taken for the eggs to hatch and for the larvae to develop varies tremendously and is vastly speeded up when in the gregarious state.
The Locust is associated with tremendous destructive power. They can form swarms of many billions of individuals each of whom will eat its own weight (2g) of vegetation every day. In the years in which the largest swarms occur they can completely destroy the vegetation over an enormous area. Hence its name and the place it has in biblical and other histories as one of the plagues that afflict mankind. On the other hand, the Locust (perhaps all Orthoptera depending on the authority you consult) is the only insect that is regarded as Kosher and Halal and is the most widely consumed of all insects. Whilst the locust destroys the crops of the landowner it is can be a nutritious windfall to those that have nothing to lose.
When swarming the insects are vulnerable to many predators. The unpredictable nature of the swarming behaviour means that no predator can adapt to an exclusive diet of Locusts but a great number of them do take advantage of the plentiful food that a swarm, particularly a swarm of hoppers, provides. Not only are individuals vulnerable but whole species are too. The Rocky Mountain Locust of Western North America produced larger swarms than any other insect. One swarm in 1874 covered an area greater than California and contained 12,500,000,000,000 individuals, yet 30 years later the species was extinct.
Swarming occurs when favourable conditions cause the number of Locusts to increase. When this happens they are more likely to come into contact with each other and if they rub their legs against those of other Locusts a certain number of times a serotonin based reaction is initiated which causes a hormonal cascade and the release of pheromones. The insect then changes from its solitary form to the gregarious form, which reproduces more quickly and forms the enormous destructive swarms. In years of recession when there is no swarming the individuals live quietly in an area of Africa north of the equator. In swarming years, they spread throughout Africa, into Europe and across the Middle East as far as India. Related species are found in America and Australia.
In the Bible, a swarm of locusts comprised the eighth plague in the story of the ‘Plagues of Egypt’. This was because Pharaoh refused to set the Israelites free so God decided to punish Him.
God had told Moses to stretch out his hand over the land of Egypt to bring a plague of locusts. The locusts covered the land and swallowed up every crop and all the fruits of the trees. Afterwards there was nothing green in the trees, and all the crops in the fields had been destroyed.
‘They invaded the whole land of Egypt and settled on all its territory in swarms so dense that the like of them had never been seen before, nor ever will be again’ Exodus 10:14
Plagues of locusts are also mentioned in the Quran and is mentioned in the below verses:
‘We sent upon them the flood and locusts and lice and frogs and blood as distinct signs, but they were arrogant and were a criminal people.’ (7:133) of chapter (7) surat l-a?raf (The Heights):
‘They will emerge from their graves with downcast eyes, like swarming locusts.’ (Qur'an, 54:7)
Socrates was an ancient Greek philosopher; having left no evidence of his own he is known through Plato one of his students. He states that locusts were once human. When muses first brought song into the world, its beauty captivated the people so they forgot to eat and drink, to which they died. The muses turned these into locusts, so they would be singing their entire lives.
The Ancient Egyptians carved locusts on tombs in the period 2470 to 2220 BC. The grasshopper was a common motif for the Ancient Egyptians and was used as a hieroglyph. It represented a symbol of beauty and as an illustration of life along the Nile. As we know this species can produce enormous populations, with these massive hoards it was considered a plague. Due to the association with large numbers this became the hieroglyphic meaning for locusts.
On the wall of Medinat Habu reads an inscription ‘battalions will come like the locusts’. In ‘Mereruka’ tomb locust are carved into the wall representing life along the Nile. They also found in the tomb illustrations from the New Kingdom and Tel el Amarna with the locust drawn in full flight with their hind legs held along their sides. These illustrations were significant as they showed that the locust wings were drawn with the hind wing in the same shape as the forewing. There are several distinctive locust carvings and drawings in the tombs. Locusts were also used as models for productions, the best known is the grasshopper toilet box found among the treasures of King Tutankhamun (Hoving 1978).
Locusts are eaten in many African, Middle Eastern and Asian countries. They have been used as food throughout history; and can be cooked in a variety of ways, with them most often being fried, smoked or dried. The Torah although disallows the use of most insects as food, permits the consumption of certain locusts. In Islamic jurisprudence, eating locusts is considered halal. Desert locust provides 11.5 g of fat, 53.5% of which is unsaturated, and 286mg of cholesterol.
It is recorded in the Bible that John the Baptist ate locusts and wild honey while living in the wilderness. ‘John was clothed with camel's hair, and with a girdle of a skin about his loins; and he did eat locusts and wild honey.’ (Mark 1:6).
Certain kinds of locusts were permitted by God for consumption, and were a part of the clean food diet. ‘Even these of them ye may eat; the locust after his kind, and the bald locust after his kind, and the beetle after his kind, and the grasshopper after his kind. ‘(Leviticus 11:2)
Locusts are used in biology as models especially for Olfactory, which is our sense of smell and the detection of chemicals in the air. Neurophysiology which is the study into the functioning of the nervous system and Locomotor which looks at the variety of movements and the progression from one place to another. This is one of the organisms that scientists have obtained detailed data from on information processing. Locusts are suitable for these experiments due to their sheer growth in numbers, easiness to reproduce as well as their robustness
Read the full proving here: Locust (Schistocerca Gregaria)
Kingdom : Animalia
Phylum : Arthropoda
Class : Insecta
Order : Orthoptera
Family : Acrididae
Genus : Schistocerca
Species : S. gregaria
The Locust is associated with tremendous destructive power. They can form swarms of many billions of individuals each of whom will eat its own weight (2g) of vegetation every day.