June 15, 2004
A new book written by University of Wyoming Professor Jeff Lockwood tracing the destruction caused by the Rocky Mountain locust in the late 1800s and the insect's puzzling demise is now available nationwide in bookstores.
In Locust: The Devastating Rise and Mysterious Disappearance of the Insect that Shaped the American Frontier, Lockwood, a professor of natural science and humanities, mixes history and science to tell the story of the creature that plagued pioneer settlements in the 1870s and 1880s with single swarms that stretched some 1,800 miles long and 110 miles wide.
In his book, Lockwood weaves pioneer accounts into historical sleuthing some 100 years after the locusts' vanishing act, speculating that habitat conversions by farmers in fertile river valleys perhaps played a pivotal role.
National reviewers have described Locust as "a smart piece of natural history that spills over into social, political and scientific commentary," "a compelling work of popular science and ecological conjecture, buttressed smartly by an observant cultural, political, agricultural and economic history of 19th-century frontier America," and a "well-told entomological mystery."