Scientific name: Melanoplus spretus Scientific classification: Phylum: Arthropoda Class: Insecta Order: Orthoptera Family: Acrididae When did it become extinct? The last sighting of this insect was in 1902. Where did it live? The native range of this insect was the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains, extending from the southern forests of British Columbia through Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, and the western parts of the Dakotas. In some years, the species was able to extend its range to take in one-third of Manitoba, the Dakotas, Minnesota, Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, the western half of Nebraska, and the northeastern part of Colorado.
In the late nineteenth century, much of the United States was a frontier where people sought to realize their American dream, and many of them headed to the vast prairies of this continent. The term prairie conjures up images of beautiful, undulating plains stretching as far as the eye can see, yet this image is not altogether accurate. In the winter, these plains get bitterly cold, and in the summer, they are blistering hot. Add to this an almost perpetual wind, and what you get is an unforgiving environment. As if these tough conditions weren't enough for the settlers, they were also confronted with an insect that amassed in swarms of a gargantuan nature.
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