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.