Digitised Australian newspaper records of locust occurrence allow a more complete reconstruction of historic plagues and a new interpretation of the species involved and reasons for their changing incidence. Two species, Chortoicetes terminifera and Austroicetes cruciata, developed swarming populations on the southern grasslands making them significant agricultural pests, but responded differently to changes of climate, landscape and land use. Their outbreaks and ecologies are explored through the writings of many scientific players from the 1840s to the 1970s. The entomologists’ activities reveal the complexity of ecological ideas, technologies and institutional settings, framed by the common material context of environmental change.
About the speaker
Ted did an Honours degree in Geography at ANU in 1980 and has since worked with government mapping agencies and the Australian Plague Locust Commission, where he is currently employed in a forecasting role. After reading many historical records of past locust outbreaks and scientific publications attempting to explain them, he became interested in the history of ideas and scientific knowledge about their ecology.