Lockwood, Jeffrey A(lan) 1960-

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LOCKWOOD, Jeffrey A(lan) 1960-


Born 1960. Education: New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, B.S., 1982; Louisiana State University, Ph.D., 1985.


Office—Department of Renewable Resources, P.O. Box 3354, University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY 82071-3354; fax: 307-766-5025. E-mail—[email protected].


Entomologist, writer, and philosopher. Louisiana State University, research fellow, 1982-86, postdoctoral associate, 1985-86; Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Division of Entomology, Canberra, Australia, visiting scientist, 1993-94; Australian National University, visiting fellow, 1993-94; Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, fellow, 1997; University of Wyoming, Laramie, adjunct professor of natural sciences, beginning 1996, currently professor of natural sciences and humanities.


(With others) Project and Report, Development of High Mountain Plant Communities as Wetland Mitigation Systems for Copper Mine Effluent, University of Wyoming (Laramie, WY), 1993.

(Editor, with others) Grasshoppers and Grassland Health: Managing Grasshopper Outbreaks without Risking Environmental Disaster, Kluwer Academic Publishers (Boston, MA), 2000.

Grasshopper Dreaming: Reflections on Killing and Loving, Skinner House Books (Boston, MA), 2002.

Locust: The Devastating Rise and Mysterious Disappearance of the Insect That Shaped the American Frontier, Basic Books (New York, NY), 2004.

Prairie Soul: Finding Grace in the Earth beneath My Feet, Skinner House Books (Boston, MA), 2004.

Contributor to periodicals, including New York Times, Bioscience, Orion, American Midland Naturalist, Ecology, Journal of Applied Ecology, Journal of Insect Conservation, UU World, Quest, and Agriculture and Human Values. Contributing editor of Pushcart Prize anthologies. Member of advisory boards of Rocky Mountain Land Library and Journal of Agricultural and Economic Ethics. Also contributor to Blessed Pests of the Beloved West: An Affectionate Collection on Insects and Their Kin, edited by Y. Shorb and T. Shorb, Native West Press (Prescott, AZ), 2003.


Ethical issues associated with extensive agroecosystem management, including the role of extractive industries and the effects of non-native species; history of the Rocky Mountain locust and its relevance to American culture, with particular attention to modern perspectives of the West; spiritual perspectives on the nature and meaning of the steppe, especially as viewed through an understanding of the lives of grasshoppers; and practices of natural history as they pertain to understanding and perceiving environments and ecosystems.


Entomologist Jeffrey A. Lockwood has written a number of technical publications on subjects in his area of interest, as well as books that appeal to both an academic and lay audience. One such book is Locust: The Devastating Rise and Mysterious Disappearance of the Insect That Shaped the American Frontier. The history of the devastation wrought by Melanoplus spretus, or Rocky Mountain locust, in the 1870s West and Midwest easily rivals the plot of the most frightening thriller.

The largest swarm of locusts to be documented was recorded by Albert Child in Nebraska. Child observed that from June 15 to 25, 1875, the mass of insects 110 miles wide covered 198,000 square miles and was between a quarter and a half mile deep. The sky was black with them and the air dense with their buzzing as they moved at approximately fifteen miles an hour. Lockwood's research supports that claim, and he estimates that the mass consisted of approximately three and half trillion locusts, an equivalent in biomass to the bison population at its peak. As many as thirty million locusts attacked a single farm at once, devouring clothing, wood, and anything edible, as well as the flesh of dead animals. They attacked humans as they slept, covering them with bites, and ate each other. Trains were stopped as piles of insects accumulated on tracks. But their greatest threat was to survival itself, as gardens, crops, orchards, and pastures were stripped bare in minutes. The damage they inflicted west of the Mississippi River equaled $116 billion in today's dollars.

In the final third of the book, Lockwood combines science with speculation in considering why the Rocky Mountain locust disappeared in the early twentieth century. The last recorded outbreak occurred in Manitoba, Canada, in 1902. Two locusts from this infestation were collected by Canadian naturalist Norman Criddle and are included in the Smithsonian's National Collection of Insects and Mites. Lockwood and his colleagues studied the frozen remains of locusts that had been discovered in Rocky Mountain glaciers to rule out some theories and pinpoint the exact cause of their extinction. Library Journal reviewer William H. Wiese noted that "as a bonus, the author shares some of his own experiences and ideas on the practice of science."

A Kirkus Reviews contributor called Locust "a smart piece of natural history that spills over into social, political, and scientific commentary." Tom Graham noted in the Washington Post Book World that Lockwood "reveals himself to be hopeful that there's a life after this death. His evidence that at least a few of these locusts still exist is less than conclusive, but it shows that a true nature lover wants every species to survive, even one that has caused so much havoc." Jonathan Kirsch wrote in the Los Angeles Times Book Review that Lockwood "makes a compelling case that he has solved what he calls 'perhaps the greatest ecological mystery of modern times.' Along the way, he tells a tale of the Old West that few of us have heard before, and he tells it exceedingly well."



Kirkus Reviews, March 15, 2004, review of Locust: The Devastating Rise and Mysterious Disappearance of the Insect That Shaped the American Frontier, p. 259.

Library Journal, April 15, 2004, William H. Wiese, review of Locust, p. 120.

Los Angeles Times Book Review, May 2, 2004, Jonathan Kirsch, review of Locust, p. R2.

Natural History, July-August, 2004, Laurence A. Marshall, review of Locust, p. 56.

New York Times, May 25, 2004, James Gorman, review of Locust, p. F3.

Publishers Weekly, March 15, 2004, review of Locust, p. 62.

Science News, July 17, 2004, review of Locust, p. 47.

Washington Post Book World, May 23, 2004, Tom Graham, review of Locust, p. T15.