Plagues of Desert Locusts Schistocerca gregaria have been documented for thousands of years. At times these huge outbreaks have been held responsible for epidemics of cholera and other diseases because of the massive quantities of decaying Locust bodies that would accumulate when the life cycle is over. The Desert Locust is found in Northern Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, and parts of Asia. Normally the Desert Locust is a solitary and fairly non-destructive animal, but after periods of drought, when there is a sudden flush of green vegetation, a population explosion may occur and the Locusts can form dense bands of flightless nymphs and swarms of winged adults that can devastate agricultural areas. A single swarm of Locusts can be small (hundreds of square meters), or unimaginable huge, composed of billions of Locusts, covering an area of over 1,000 square kilometers. Locust plagues can consist of hundreds of individual swarms and can devour virtually all of the vegetation in a large swath of agricultural land. Desert Locusts consume approximately their body weight each day in green vegetation, bark, seeds and flowers.

The 17-year Locust Magicicada septendecim is actually a cicadia, and as the name suggests, lives for 17 years. The interesting thing about this insect, however, is that it only makes an above-ground appearance for a few short weeks of that time, and then it is quite an impressive event, as all of the locusts in that brood emerge at the same time. The adults look like a grasshopper, but are red eyed and dark bodied. They do not feed when they emerge, but are only there for reproduction. The other 16 1/2 years of their life, the 17-year Locust spends underground, feeding on roots.

compiled overview of the 20 ton Locust 'Mech, from various BattleTech novels and game sourcebooks:

The Locust was one of the most produced and common BattleMechs of the fallen Star League. Bergan Industries began production of the 'Mech at eight of their facilities in 2499, and was still in peak production when the Star League fell several years later. The Locust was originally designed as a light and fast recon vehicle, a role it has fulfilled well for both the old Star League and the later Successor States for over 560 years.

Nine official variants of the 'Mech have been produced over the years along with countless custom refits. All modifications involve changes to the Locust's weapon load. Though most every Locust variant packs a great deal of firepower, many Locusts do not have enough heat sinks to be able to use all their weapons effectively.

It is the rare MechWarrior who enjoys piloting a Locust for any length of time. It is currently the smallest of all 'Mechs used and thus is outclassed by just about every other 'Mech on the field. Lacking the jump jets and manipulative arms of other 'Mechs, the Locust is limited in close-quarter firefights and in hand-to-hand combat.

As speed is one of its major assets, the Locust is often placed where the front is fluid, as it is quick enough to respond to a possible enemy breakthrough. A direct hit by almost any weapon on the battlefield can destroy or quickly cripple a Locust so they are usually deployed in groups of three or more. Used this way, they have the ability to encircle opposing slower 'Mechs. Many large 'Mechs that wander off in battle have fallen to such an attack, but more often, the Locust must fight a holding action until larger, better armored 'Mechs can arrive.

A notable engagement involving Locusts was an attack by Helmar Valasek against a small Kurita garrison on Porthos in 3024. In that engagement, a bandit Union Class DropShip slid past the fighter cover and disembarked several fast combat lances consisting of Locusts, Wasps, and Stingers. In a lightning attack on an arsenal, the bandits seized the supplies they had come for and escaped off-world. Though the Kurita garrison was well-defended, its 'Mechs were too slow to pursue the attacking Locusts.

In 3020, House Steiner engaged House Marik on the world Callison. Elements of Marik Militia's 10th Regiment were supporting several recon lances composed of Locusts and their variants. In the city-fighting at Rolso on Callison, these units more than proved their worth by their ability to navigate narrow streets and play havoc with the infantry in the nearby buildings.

Note: Information used here was the domain of FASA before they split the rights between Wizkids LLC and Microsoft (table-top gaming and video games respectively). Copyright of the fluff text is in limbo, but names of persons, places, & things are without any doubt the property of Wizkids LLC. Use of any terms here related to the BattleTech trademark are not meant as a challenge to Wizkids LLC's rights.

Lo"cust (?), n. [L. locusta locust, grasshopper. Cf. Lobster.]

1. Zool.

Any one of numerous species of long-winged, migratory, orthopterous insects, of the family Acrididae, allied to the grasshoppers; esp., (Edipoda, ∨ Pachytylus, migratoria, and Acridium perigrinum, of Southern Europe, Asia, and Africa. In the United States the related species with similar habits are usually called grasshoppers. See Grasshopper.

⇒ These insects are at times so numerous in Africa and the south of Asia as to devour every green thing; and when they migrate, they fly in an immense cloud. In the United States the harvest flies are improperly called locusts. See Cicada.

Locust beetle Zool., a longicorn beetle (Cyllene robiniae), which, in the larval state, bores holes in the wood of the locust tree. Its color is brownish black, barred with yellow. Called also locust borer. -- Locust bird Zool. the rose-colored starling or pastor of India. See Pastor. -- Locust hunter Zool., an African bird; the beefeater.

2. [Etymol. uncertain.] Bot.

The locust tree. See Locust Tree (definition, note, and phrases).

Locust bean Bot., a commercial name for the sweet pod of the carob tree.


© Webster 1913.

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