Locust

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          Locusts are from the family of Acrididae in the Orthoptera order, they are the collection of short-horned grasshoppers species that have swarming phase. They usually live in individual space, but under some situation, they gather in a large quantity as a society and in crowded condition, there will be a change in their behavior, habits, morphology, appearance, physiology and ecology change progressively (over several generations), a shift known as a phase change. They are large herbivorous insects that can be serious issues to farmers. Locusts can live about three to five months and it depends on weather and ecology condition. Locusts do not attack people or animals. Locust females lay an egg in sandy soils at depth of 10-15cm below the surface, they can lay about 95-158 eggs at intravel of 60-11 days in their lifetime, they lay eggs three times in their lifetime.

List of Locust Species

S.noCommon nameScientific namePlace
01Australian plague locustChortoicetes terminiferaAustralia
02Bombay locustNomadacris succinctaIndia, South-east Asia
03Brown locustLocustana pardalinaSouthern Africa
04Desert locustSchistocerca gregariadeserts from West and North Africa to western India
05South American locustSchistocerca cancellataSouth America
06Central American locustSchistocerca piceifronsCentral America
07Italian locustCalliptamus italicusSemi-deserts and steppes from Morocco and central Europe to Central Asia
08Migratory locustLocusta migratoriaAsia, Africa and eastern Europe
09Moroccan locustDociostaurus maroccanusSemi-deserts and steppes from Morocco through North Africa and the Middle East to Central Asia
10Red locustNomadacris septemfasciataSouthern and south-central Africa
11Rocky Mountain locustMelanoplus spretusExtinct
12Spur-throated locustAustralis proceraAustralia
13Tree locustsAnacridium spp
13 (a)Egyptian locustAnacridium aegyptiumEurope, North Africa, and Central Asia
13 (b)Sahelian tree locustAnacridium melanorhodonSahelian vegetation zone
13 (c)Sudan tree locustAnacridium wernerellumSudanian vegetation zone
14Mato Grosso locustRhammatocerus schistocercoidesBrazil
15Yellow-spined bamboo locustCeracris kiangsuIndo-China, eastern China
16High plains locustDissosteira longipennisNorth America.
17Senegalese grasshopperOedaleus senegalensisLocust-like behavior in the Sahel region
18Sudan plague locustAiolopus simulatrixOccasionally behaves like a locust in eastern Sudan
19Pallid-winged grasshopperTrimerotropis pallidipennisOccasionally exhibits swarming behavior in western North America

Locust and grasshopper

            Grasshoppers and locusts are almost related, locusts are a part of a large group of grasshoppers but all grasshoppers are not locusts. Locusts are grasshoppers that develop gregarious behaviors under optimum environmental conditions which involve the presence of huge populations of grasshoppers. Locusts migrate over large distances but an individual grasshopper won’t.

Impact on agriculture

            Locusts are a great threat to agriculture and food security, they feed on leaves, fruits, flowers, shoots and seeds. Locusts eat nearly all crops and non-crop plants like paddy, wheat, millet, sugarcane, maize, sorghum, barley, grasses, fruits, date palms, banana leaves, vegetables, weeds, cotton and many edible plants. Crop loss from locusts was noted in many holy books like Bible and Qur’an, from these ancient books we came to know these locusts are a great threat to farmers from the ancient time.

Locust Swarm

          One kilometer of  locust swarm contains more or less to 40 million locusts, they can eat more than 35,000’s food  in a day. Swarming is conducted due to overcrowding of locusts. Locust plague was take placed in Yemen, Iran, Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, UAE, Oman, Sudan, Iran,  Pakistan, and in Indian border, they created disaster where they have been traveled.        There are some difficulties to control them because they spread to  16-30 million sq km  , it is difficult to access remote areas, the insecurity , undeveloped  basic structures ,and limited resources .

Locust Swarm in History

Ancient Egyptian carvings

In the ancient Egyptian carvings of the period 2470 to 2220 BC, they carved locusts on their tombs, and in the Bible, they listed a highly destructive plague in Egypt around 1446 BC. In the Quran plague of locusts was mentioned in it. In the Iliad (Ancient Greek epic poem by Homer) he mentioned locust taking to the wing to escape the fire. In 311 AD northwest provinces of China were affected by the plague and in 19th century BC, Chinese appointed anti-locust officers. Aristotle studied locusts and their breeding habits and in 203 BC Livy recorded a plague in Capua

Prevention of Crops from Locust Swarm

          Organophosphate insecticides are applied in small concentrated doses  can be sprayed  by vehicle , aerial spray  , power sprayer and hand-held sprayer. There also non – chemical ways to kill some locusts , they can be killed by natural predators and  parasites but  they can  migrate  from the natural predators. In  past they used giant nets, flames, huge vacuums  but they don’t make more effect .

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