Sources : Locust

Pliny the Elder [1st century CE] (Natural History, Book 11, 35): Insects that have feet can move sideways. Of some, for instance locusts, the hind feet are longer and curve outward. Locusts in the autumn season give birth to clusters of eggs, by lowering the tube of the prickle to the earth. The eggs last for the winter, but in the ensuing year at the end of spring send out small insects, that are blackish and have no legs, and crawl with their wing-feathers. Consequently spring rains kill the eggs, whereas in a dry spring there are larger broods. Others record that they have two breeding seasons and two seasons when they die off — bearing at the rise of the Pleiades and then dying at the rise of the Dogstar, others being born in their place; some say that this second brood is born at the setting of Arcturus. It is certain that the mothers die when they have given birth to a brood, a maggot immediately forming inside them in the region of the throat that chokes them. The males die at the same time. And although dying for such a trifling reason a single locust when it likes can kill a snake by gripping its throat with its teeth. They are born only in places with chinks in them. There are said to be locusts in India three feet long, with legs and thighs that when they have been dried can be used as saws. They also have another way of dying: they are carried away in swarms by the wind and fall into the sea or a marsh. This happens purely by accident and not, as was believed by ancient writers, owing to their wings being drenched by the dampness of night. The same people indeed have also stated that they do not fly by night because of the cold - not being aware that they cross even wide seas, actually, which is most surprising, enduring several days' continuous hunger, to remedy which they know how to seek fodder abroad. This plague is interpreted as a sign of the wrath of the gods; for they are seen of exceptional size, and also they fly with such a noise of wings that they are believed to be birds, and they obscure the sun, making the nations gaze upward in anxiety lest they should settle all over their lands. In fact their strength does not fail, and as though it were not enough to have crossed the seas, they pass over immense tracts of land and cover them with a cloud disastrous for the crops, scorching up many things with their touch and gnawing away everything with their bite, even the doors of the houses as well. Italy is infested by swarms of them, coming principally from Africa, the Roman nation having often been compelled by fear of death to resort to remedies prescribed by the Sibylline Books. In the district of Cyrene there is actually a law to make war upon them three times a year, the first time by crushing the eggs, then the grubs and last the fully grown insects, with the penalty of a deserter for the man who shirks. Also in the Island of Lemnos there is a rule prescribing a definite quantity of locusts killed that each man has to bring in to the magistrates. Also they keep jays for this purpose, which meet them by flying in the opposite direction, to their destruction. In Syria as well people are commandeered by military order to kill them. In so many parts of the world is this plague abroad; but with the Parthians even the locust is an acceptable article of diet. The locust's voice appears to come from the back of the head: it is believed that in that place at the juncture of the shoulder-blades they have a sort of teeth, and that they produce a grating noise by rubbing them together, chiefly about the two equinoxes, as grasshoppers do about midsummer. Locusts couple in the same manner as all insects that pair, the female carrying the male with the end of her tail bent back to him, and with slow separation. In all this class the males are smaller than the females. - [Rackham translation]

Saint Ambrose [4th century CE] (Hexameron, Book 3, 8.37; 5, 23.82-83): [Book 3, 8.37] The leaves of the olive, too, cure the locusts of illness. [Book 5, 23.82] Divine grace has penetrated even into the life of a locust. When a locust swarms over and takes possession of some extent of land, no harm at first is done to the land. Nothing is devoured by these unfriendly invaders except when a sign from heaven has been received. A passage in Exodus provides an example of this. There the locust as minister of divine vengeance inflicts punishment for an offense against heaven. [Book 5, 23.82] This animal is devoured in turn by a bird ... given to us as a remedy for the ills that the locust usually inflict. The Creator has given this bird an insatiable appetite wherewith the all-devouring plague, to which we have just referred, can be utterly destroyed. - [Savage translation, 1961]

Isidore of Seville [7th century CE] (Etymologies, Book 12, 8:9): Locusts [(locusta, also meaning “lobster” or “crawfish”] are so called because their legs are ‘long, like spears’ [longis . . . asta, [i.e. hasta, “spear”]. Whence the Greeks call the sea as well as the land creature “lobster”. - [Barney, Lewis, et. al. translation]

Thomas of Cantimpré [circa 1200-1272 CE] (Liber de natura rerum, Quadrupeds 4.67; Worms 9.26): [Thomas mistakenly calls the locust a four-footed animal. He also describes it as a worm.] [Quadrupeds 4.67] A locust is a four-footed animal, as Jacobus says, living in the eastern parts around the region of Jerusalem. This animal is very small, but as those who have seen this animal say, it has a large head and is fleshy and edible. Hence we read in the Gospel that John the Baptist fed only on the flesh of these animals. Some, however, say that to the monks who live around the deserts of the Jordan, locusts are a herb that is sweet to eat, on which certainly John the Baptist was fed, not on locust animals. They said that the grass was called by the common name langustam, but that the locust was called by its proper name. On the contrary, Augustine says about that place, that the locusts were animals, not grass. Augustine, therefore, who says this, must be more believed. Here, however, it must be noted that the locust-worm and the locust, a four-legged animal, differ greatly in this respect, since the locust-worm is small, while the locust, the animal that John used, is large, almost like a rabbit. This animal walks in a herd; hence Solomon says: "The locust has no king, and yet it all goes forth in its company", which certainly cannot be said of the locust-worm at all, because the locust-worms do not come out in companies, but proceed singly. Aristotle seems to be speaking of these locusts, for he says that a certain woman nursed a locust from the time when it was small and young. But when it grew up, it was found to have been impregnated by itself and without a male. In this, then, it appears that the locust is a four-footed animal, and sometimes by itself it gives birth to a female locust, which has no male. [Worms 9.26] The locust, as Gregory says, is said to be 'standing in place'. It has a head shaped like a horse. It is green in color, having longer back legs. It jumps across fields and thickets. As Pliny and Andelmus say, eggs are produced in clusters in autumn, which last all winter. At the end of the spring, the offspring break out in the form of little crawling worms without legs and wings. It is certain that the mothers die when they have given birth, a worm immediately springing up around their throats, which strangles them. Locusts are carried away by the wind and fall into seas or rivers. It is certain that they pass over these distant seas, and continue to suffer hunger for many days, which we are most astonished at, because they know how to seek such remote places for foreign food. And this is a wonder, if the faithful do this for the sake of eternal life, seeking food and hungering for the word of God. Locusts fly with such a noise of their wings that they are believed to be birds; but the people, seeing them coming from afar, are anxious lest they should cover their lands. For wherever the terrible cloud lands, it scorches and corrodes all it touches. In the region of Cineria, it is required by law to kill them three times a year: first the eggs, then the grubs, and lastly the adults; any who have disobeyed this law will be awarded the penalty of a deserter. In Syria, the people are commanded by the military to fight them. The Parthians take locusts as food. They are said to have teeth in the joints of the shoulders, and to create a grating noise by grinding them together. Locusts mate around the solstice. They come together with the male carrying the female. Males are smaller than females. As the Experimentator says, locusts eat each other, and the older ones eat the younger ones. A locust has a square-shaped mouth; it has a thorn for a tail. its legs are turned inward. Locusts are born from the south wind, and die from the north winds. They are more quickly fattened by the flowers of almond trees. It has only one bowel, full of blood and filth. Locusts also have, as Ambrose says, a remedy for their infirmity: for the bruised leaves of the laurel deliver them from sickness. - [Badke translation/paraphrase]

Bartholomaeus Anglicus [13th century CE] (Liber de proprietatibus rerum, Book12.24): Locusta hath that name, for it hath long legges, as the shaft of a Speare. Therefore the Gréekes call her Hastagion, as Isidore sayth. And these wormes that be called Locust have no king: and yet they passe forth ordinatly in companyes, as it is sayde Proverbiorum. 30. They eate each other, for the more eateth the lesse, and bée séene in Summer, & hidde in winter. And their hinder legs be longer then their fore legs, as the Glose sayth super. 1 Joel. And first when hée is young, hée is Athalabus, and afterwarde when the wings bée growen he is made Locusta. And gréeveth more in youth while he is Athelabus, then in age when he is Locusta. And hath a square mouth, and a sting in stéede of a taile, and crooked, and solding legges. And they eate burgenings of trées and of hearbes, and gnawe them, and are gendered of the Southerne winde, and excited to flight, and they die in the Northerne wind. And in leaping they areare themselves, and in rearing they fall, & are fatted with flowers of Almons. Also this worme Locusta for the most part is all wombe: and therefore it hath never meate inough. And hath but one gut, and that is alwaye full of filth, and of uncleannesse: but alway he is hungred while he liveth: and if he findeth anye thing gréene, he gnaweth & cesaeth not. With little colde he falleth as he were dead. But he quickeneth againe with heate of ye Sun: and their dirt wormes be gendered. - [Batman]