Profile America: Rocky Mountain Locusts Swarm

Nebraska State Historical Society

Nebraska State Historical Society

Tuesday, July 25 — This month in 1874, the largest swarm of Rocky Mountain Locusts ever recorded blackened the skies from the Dakotas to Texas, and began to feast on America’s farms. The moving swarm was estimated to cover almost 200,000 square miles. Like something out of the Old Testament, 12.5 trillion locusts ate not only crops, but also leather, paint, clothing and the wool off of living sheep. The plague ended on July 30th, and subsequent swarms were much smaller.

In fact, the last living Rocky Mountain locust was noted in 1902. Such a phenomenon today would still be overwhelming, but some 100,000 Americans work in nearly 14,000 extermination and pest control establishments to combat smaller infestations.

Profile America is in its 21st year as a public service of the U.S. Census Bureau.

Print Friendly
Share this Article: