Australia is in danger of being hit by a plague of biblical proportions thanks to conditions very similar to those suspected of causing the “natural explanation” version of Egypt’s plague outlined in a scientific inquiry on Egypt’s plagues. The perfect storm brewing on the horizon will be heralded with not lightning and thunder but the buzzing of billions of bugs.
In ancient Egypt Pharaoh Merneptah was asked by Moses to free the Israelites, and when he refused Egypt was swarmed with seven plagues; and one of these plagues was locusts. In 2009, however, a natural explanation of the plagues was offered by scientists studying the history of Egypt. What they found was that locusts may have been affected by a series of cataclysmic events that ultimately led to the seven deadly plagues that visited them.
First, 2010 has seen a continuing decline in frog populations. As frogs are generally one of the more prolific predators for insects such as locusts, the depletion of their ranks results in several times their weight living on to reproduce and inundate a population. And even so, the declining population of frogs is only one factor in the upcoming plague of locusts said to be on the verge for Australia. And already the damage is mounting. An estimated $2 billion has already been destroyed by massive mile wide swarms of locusts descending on crops and consuming tons upon tons of food from them.
Locusts travel in swarms, not only for protection and because the swarm likely knows where the others are, but also because they need to be eating constantly. Even while traveling. A swarm of locusts traveling a great distance will often resort to cannibalism both to eat one another’s flesh and drink their blood. The survival mechanism is thought to have developed over the course of thousands of years traveling harsh and unpredictable terrain.
With the locust swarms threatening Australia many are worried the swarms will breed in numbers unlike anything that has ever been recorded. Records go back some 75 years, but what is expected is thought to dwarf even the largest swarms to have ever struck the nation. And with economic times already hard for the rest of the world, Australia has been gaining speed on other larger economies enjoying a three year high in 2010, even after suffering a severe drought in 2008 that was rumored to be responsible for mass evacuations of a third of the population by 2009 (which gladly never happened and turned out to be no more than a baseless rumor.)
But how will the land down under weather this coming storm? Farmers are using heavy pesticides in an effort to stop the insects from consuming crops, but have found that the ravenous insects are becoming increasingly difficult to spot as they scour the countryside. And geographically isolated farmers may not reach news of an incoming swarm until it is too late. Are these insect swarms a sign of the times we live in? Or are they here to stay?