Uncategorized | May 21, 2007
A film crew working for the History Channel interviewed UW’s College of Agriculture locust and grasshopper experts for a documentary titled The Perfect Swarm. Interviewed were Alex Latchininsky, UW Cooperative Extension Service entomologist, and Jeff Lockwood, former professor in the Department of Renewable Resources and now in the Department of Philosophy. The crew later filmed Latchininsky and Lockwood collecting grasshopper samples west of Laramie.
The documentary should air this fall, says Andy Papadopoulos of the Creative Differences television production company in Studio City, Calif. Scott Ogle, director of photography, and Chas Gordon, audio technician, joined him at UW to film the segment that will be part of the channel’s ongoing Mega Disasters series. “This is an unusual subject,” says Papadopoulos. “It taps into primordial fears. Locusts themselves have a rich, deep history.” The crew asked Latchininsky, a professor in the renewable resources department, his expert opinion regarding locust biology and ecology. They also discussed conditions conducive to locust outbreaks in Africa and elsewhere and the modern methods to monitor and manage locusts, including the use of satellite imagery. “They also asked about the grasshopper situation in the United States and the economic importance of the pests in Wyoming and the West,” says Latchininsky.
The crew filmed UW locust and grasshopper collections and exhibits. Schistocercea nitens, live gray bird grasshoppers from Hawaii, were displayed. In 2004, the species began devouring vegetation on the small Hawaiian island of Nihoa. Latchininsky was the grasshopper expert invited by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to spend 11 days on the island last year to lend expertise to possible control efforts. The insect is a distant “cousin” of the infamous Desert locust, Schistocerca gregaria, of the Old World, Latchininsky says. In 2005, the National Geographic Explorer Channel presented The Perfect Swarm, which featured Lockwood’s work to discover why the Rocky Mountain Locust became extinct. The subject matter is somewhat different; only the title is the same, Latchininsky says.