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Naturae Amator and the Grasshopper Infestations of South Australia's Early Years

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Abstract:

The descriptions of the natural history of South Australia written by Charles Algernon Wilson (Naturae Amator, Delta) from 1841 to 1845 reveal much about the romantic vision of a young naturalist in an unknown southern world as he savoured the unlimited prospects of the new colony. They also provide sufficient detail about the grasshoppers that became an annual swarming pest around Adelaide during 1843–1848 to assign it to the common species Austroicetes cruciata (Saussure 1888). This resets the early history of grasshopper and locust outbreaks in Australia, where the first reports in South Australia have been attributed to the Australian plague locust, Chortoicetes terminifera (Walker, F. 1875). It also introduces the possibility that the swarms resulted from early ecological changes brought about by the introduction of European livestock and agriculture to this continent.

Keywords: ADELAIDE HISTORY; AUSTROICETES CRUCIATA; CHARLES ALGERNON WILSON; CHORTOICETES TERMINIFERA; ENVIRONMENTAL HISTORY; GRASSHOPPERS AND LOCUSTS; SOUTH AUSTRALIAN HISTORY

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 2012

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