|"It is a strange sight, beautiful if you can forget the destruction it brings with it. The whole air, to twelve or even eighteen feet above the ground, is filled with the insects, reddish brown in body, with bright, gauzy wings. When the sun's rays catch them it is like the sea sparing with light. When you see them against a cloud they are like the dense flakes of a driving snow-storm. You feel as if you had never before realised immensity in number. Vast crowds of men gathered at a festival, countless tree-tops rising along the slope of a forest ridge, the chimneys of London houses from the top of St. Paul's - all are as nothing to the myriads of insects that blot out the sun above and cover the ground beneath and fill the air whichever way one looks. The breeze carries them swiftly past, but they come on in fresh clouds, a host of which there is no end, each of them a harmless creature which you can catch and crush in your band, but appalling in their power of collective devastation."|
|"The quantity of these insects is a thing incredible to any one who has not seen it himself; the ground is covered by them for several leagues."' "The whole face of the mountain was black with them. On they came like a living deluge. We dug trenches and kindled fires, and beat and burnt to death heaps upon heaps, but the effort was utterly useless. They rolled up the mountain-side, and poured over rocks, walls, ditches and hedges, those behind covering up and passing over the masses already killed. For some days they continued to pass. The noise made by them in marching and foraging was like that of a heavy shower falling upon a distant forest. "|
|"The roads were covered with them, all marching and in regular lines,
like armies of soldiers, with their leaders in front; and all the opposition
of man to resist their progress was in vain." Having consumed the plantations
in the country, they entered the towns and villages.
"When they approached our garden all the farm servants were employed to keep them off; but to no avail; though our men broke their ranks for a moment, no sooner had they passed the men, than they closed again, and marched forward through hedges and ditches as before. Our garden finished, they continued their march toward the town, devastating one garden after another. They have also penetrated into most of our rooms: whatever one is doing one hears their noise from without, like the noise of armed hosts, or the running of many waters. When in an erect position their appearance at a little distance is like that of a well-armed horseman."
|Locusts are notoriously adapted for a plague, "since to strength incredible
for so small a creature, they add sawlike teeth, admirably calculated to
eat up all the herbs in the land." They are the incarnation of hunger. No
voracity is like theirs, the voracity of little creatures, whose million
separate appetites nothing is too minute to escape. They devour first grass
and leaves, fruit and foliage, everything that is green and juicy. Then they
attack the young branches of trees, and then the hard bark of the trunks.'
"After eating up the corn, they fell upon the vines, the pulse, the willows,
and even the hemp, notwithstanding its great bitterness."
"The bark of figs, pomegranates and oranges, bitter, hard and corrosive, escaped not their voracity." "They are particularly injurious to the palm-trees; these they strip of every leaf and green particle, the trees remaining like skeletons with bare branches."
"For eighty or ninety miles they devoured every green herb and every blade of grass."
"The gardens outside Jaffa are now completely stripped, even the bark of the young trees having been devoured, and look like a birch-tree forest in winter."
"The bushes were eaten quite bare, though the animals could not have been long on the spot. They sat by hundreds on a bush gnawing the rind and the woody fibres."'
"Bamboo groves have been stripped of their leaves and left standing like saplings after a rapid bush fire, and grass has been devoured so that the bare ground appeared as if burned."
"The country did not seem to be burnt, but to be much covered with snow through the whiteness of the trees and the dryness of the herbs."
The fields finished, they invade towns and houses, in search of stores. Victual of all kinds, hay, straw, and even linen and woollen clothes and leather bottles, they consume or tear in pieces.' They flood through the open, unglazed windows and lattices: nothing can keep them out.