Top 3 Biggest Insect Swarms In Recent History

There are more insects on Earth than there are human beings. Billions more. In fact, there are so many insects that they can sometimes swarm in the millions and devastate the landscape. Swarms are large numbers of insects that get together for a collective purpose. This purpose can be migration, mating, or eating. Swarming is a behavior that occurs more often than most people realize. Sometimes these swarms get so massive that they are positively biblical, as in the swarm of locusts that destroyed ancient Egypt’s crops. Here are a few massive swarms that have appeared in recent memory.

1931 Grasshoppers in the Midwest

Grasshopper Swarm
Grasshopper Swarm

Grasshoppers are famous for swarming and devouring miles of crop along the way. This usually happens as part of the mating drive, when certain conditions cause their wings and jaws to grow making them into hungry eating machines. They fly farther, and eat more as a result. The 1931 Swarm landed in the heartland of South Dakota, Nebraska, and Iowa in July. There are so many grasshoppers that they blocked out the sun and ate crops right down to the ground. People had to use shovels to scoop dead grasshoppers off the ground. This swarm was particularly bad because it occurred in the midst of the Great Depression and the Dustbowl, placing even more hardship on a strained nation.

2009 Ladybugs on Green Mountain

Ladybug Swarm
Ladybug Swarm

In Boulder, Colorado the residents experienced a very buggy summer of 2009 when millions of ladybugs landed to feast on a bumper crop of aphids. This swarm of bugs is mainly carnivorous, so the plants weren’t in too much danger, but the very wet spring provided plenty of green plants for the growth of other insects including aphids, slugs, snails, mosquitoes, and ants. The ladybugs were everywhere as they feasted on these insects. People reported seeing so many ladybugs on tree trunks that it appeared as if the bark itself were moving.

Double Cicada Hatching of 1998

Cicada Swarm
Cicada Swarm

Cicadas are large, winged bugs with massive eyes and no mouth parts. They live underground in a larval stage for a decade of their lives before emerging to develop wings as adults. These adults fly, mate, and die. They are not at all dangerous, but they are scary looking and sounding. Massive broods of cicada live under the North American continent, but they only come out once every 13 or 17 years. This is bad enough on its own when millions of bugs line the tree trunks and sidewalks, making chirping noises all night. However, once every 221 years, the brood hatchings will align and both 13 and 17 year cicadas crawl up out of the ground. This happened in 1998 and cicadas swarmed the northern and southern states of America in the millions. Luckily, this won’t happen again for another two hundred years.

Insect swarms are no joke. They can be quite annoying and cause lots of damage. However, not all swarms are locusts and grasshoppers. Some swarms are from normally harmless insects that in large numbers cause a lot of problems.

About the author: Chris is a blogger for a Union Exterminator company.

Published by Thomas Ballantyne

5 For Friday: Pest Control Links Round-Up

Pest Of The Week: Bagrada Bugs


English: Eurydema dominulus. One of cabbage st...

Bagrada bugs, sometimes called painted bugs, harlequin bugs, or cabbage bugs, can commonly cause pest control problems in select areas of the United States. They are very common in Southern California, where they were first discovered in 2008. Since then they have migrated to parts of Southern Arizona.

Bagrada bugs measure about 6 mm in length, and have a very recognizable shield shaped body. Their orange, black, and white markings also make the insects very recognizable. Those not familiar with bagrada bugs, sometimes mistake them for ladybugs; even though they are orange (not red) and are a different shape.

Bagrada bugs commonly harm garden plants like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, turnip, and radish. When one of these garden plants are attacked by bagrada bugs, they can sustain significant damage. Bagrada bugs will destroy their plant host by inserting their needle-like mouth parts, and suck out the vital juices the plants need to survive.


Pest Control Links Round-Up For May 17, 2013


Glow In The Dark Scorpions At Neon Splash Dash

Bulwark Exterminating was a big hit with their scorpion trucks and glow-in-the dark scorpions at the Neon Splash Dash 5K in Scottsdale, AZ. More…

Beware of Cockroaches

Roach droppings can be dangerous, but the worst part of it is that the legs and feet can track germs throughout a home very quickly. This easily spreads very dangerous diseases. More…

The Pennsylvania Wood Cockroach

Wood roaches are common to wooded areas (not just in Pennsylvania), from late spring through summer, and live in hollow trees and stumps. Do not to store firewood indoors or against the side of your home as it can attract these roaches. More…

Controlling Mosquitoes That Find Their Way in Your Home

Rest Easy Pest Control offers these preventative measures this summer to ensure your home remains mosquito free. More…

North Carolina Braces For Cicada Invasion

The east coast is bracing for the 17 year cicadas, and the residents of North Carolina are no different. Here’s an informative Q & A article about the noisy cicada’s invasion of the Tarheel state. More…




Cicada Invasion To Hit Eastern US

17-Year Cicada Illinois Brood XIII

Much of the eastern United States, including areas as far south as Georgia, are about to be overcome with millions of scary looking insects called cicadas. Swarms will be anywhere and everywhere. When they hatch, the ground will look like it is boiling. It’s a phenomenon that cannot be witnessed anywhere else in the world. Here’s what you need to know about these swarming bugs:

Swarms Of Cicadas To Hit Eastern U.S.

Welcome back cicadas! For the first time since 1996, after spending 17 years hiding underground, massive swarms of cicadas are set to descend on the eastern United States.

From New York down to Georgia, these noisy and menacing looking insects are expected to be everywhere and on everything. You will see clouds of them buzzing through the air. Clusters can range from tens of thousands to 1.5 million per acre. These cicadas, referred to as Brood II cicadas by scientists, will be stuck on the sides of your home and car. They climb buildings and trees. These cicadas are 17 years in the making.

Imagines of Magicicada septendecim, 17-year-pe...

Back in 1996, when Bill Clinton was the President of the United States and gas was a mere $1.21 a gallon, swarms of cicadas laid eggs in the soil. A single cicada female can lay as many as 600 eggs. These cicada eggs lay dormant under the soil for 17 years as the larvae grow. When soil temperatures reach about 64 degrees on the East Coast, which is expected any day now, the cicadas will hatch. When they do hatch from the ground, they’ll climb up your trees, shed their skins, and then transform into loud, obnoxious adults. They’ll lay their eggs in the ground and repeat the life cycle.

Within about six weeks, all of these swarming cicadas that crawled out of the earth will be dead … Hundreds of millions, if not billions, of them. You’ll see piles of them; so much that you may need a snow shovel to clean them all up off your property.

What Do Cicadas Look Like?

Brood II cicadas are about 1.5 inches long, or about the size of a quarter. They are an ominous black color with fiery red eyes that are set on the side of the head.

If you cannot see the swarms of cicadas, chances are you will definitely hear them. Their annoying buzzing sound can reach 90 decibels… That’s about as loud as a lawnmower. This buzzing sound has even caused permanent hearing loss for some.

Animated Gif of a Cicada (Tibicen sp.) Molting...

Are These Cicadas Dangerous?

There’s no doubt that these cicadas are frightening to look at, but there in no reason to be afraid of these bugs. They do not bite. They do not sting. Despite their terrifying appearance, the cicadas are relatively harmless… Just loud, annoying and bothersome.

How Long Will The Cicadas Be Around?

In late May or June, when the soil temperatures reach a moderate 64 degrees, the cicada nymphs will begin crawling out of the ground. Witnesses describe the scene as something straight out of a horror flick. The ground will look like it’s boiling. Fortunately, the entire cicada cycle will only last about 6 weeks, wrapping up by the Fourth of July. After that, we won’t see the cicadas again until 2030.

What Can I Do About The Cicada Invasion?

Unfortunately, there isn’t much homeowners can do to prevent these swarms of cicadas from infesting their homes. It’s going to happen. You may need a snow shovel of sorts to clear away the piles of cicadas from your home. Make sure all doors and windows are tightly secured throughout the end of May until the end of June.

All entry points to your home need to be sealed up, or you risk these cicadas entering your home. Just remember, this cicada invasion will only last six weeks at the most, and will not be seen again until 2030.