Photo courtesy of The Matson Collection, The Episcopal Home

From verdant to desolate. A locust swarm quickly stripped this typical fig tree in Palestine (shown here before it was stripped, compare with next photo). A characteristic product of dry farming (that is, without irrigation) and an important nutritional source since biblical times, figs are an especially useful fruit because they can be dried and stored. These photos, like almost all the others illustrating this article, were taken by G. Eric Matson during a locust plague that infested Palestine in 1915. For more about the life and work of this extraordinary documentary photographer, see the sidebar to this article.