“The locusts have no king, yet go they forth all of them by bands….”
Normally, the desert locusts mentioned in the Bible are shy and reclusive and are green in color. What turns them into the multi-colored army that sweeps across the land, eating every leaf in sight?
Even the book of Proverbs marvels at how locusts, without any leaders, behave like a destructive army. Yet they live most or all of their lives as grasshoppers. However, there are seven species of these locusts that now and again can become a destructive swarm. It happens when their population spikes, usually due to an abundance of food. But what triggers the change? Researchers put a rolling ball around in a cage to jostle a solitary locust. After a few hours the locust was ready to jostle fellow locusts. Then researchers next took a small paintbrush and began to tickle various parts of the insect. After long, tedious hours of locust tickling they found that simply touching a locust’s hind leg made it ready to swarm. They concluded that when the locust population spikes, the insects begin to jostle each other, and that touching turns them into a destructive swarm.
One might conclude that when God wanted to punish people in Old Testament times with a plague of locusts, He simply blessed the locusts until they began to jostle against one another. Then they were ready to swarm at His bidding.