Grasshopper Control in Gardens and Landscapes. How a grasshopper becomes a pest. Huge swarms of desert locusts that took over East Africa and beyond earlier this year are breeding again, with a second wave of insects now threatening food supplies and livelihoods. It is the worst infection in a quarter of a century. How did it get so bad?
Detailed image of desert locust
One of those desert locusts, a type of grasshopper, generally prefers to lead a shy and solitary life. It develops from an egg into a young grasshopper, known as a jumper, and then into a flying adult. It is a simple, yet infallible existence (grasshopper control in gardens).
Detailed image of a giant desert locust
But every now and then, the Desert Locusts undergo a Jekyll and Hyde transformation. When crowded together, as in shrinking areas of green vegetation, they cease to be solitary creatures and become mini “oceanic” animals. In this new mating stage, the insects change color and form groups that can become huge flying swarms of marauding predatory insects (grasshopper control in gardens).
Such a locust swarm can be very large. These can contain up to 10 billion individuals and can extend for hundreds of kilometers. They can cover distances of up to 200 km (120 miles) in one day, destroying rural livelihoods in their relentless drive to feed and reproduce (grasshopper control in gardens).
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), even an average herd can destroy enough crops to feed 2,500 people for a year. Locust outbreaks have declined in recent decades. Number of reporting countries, 1926-2019
Swelling plague or recession
Deceleration means that lobsters are present at low density; The appearance means that many locust outbreaks have intensified through reproduction; Plague means severe, generalized infection that lasts for more than a year; The end of the plague is called the fall.
According to the United Nations, the last big increase in West Africa in 2003-05 – a sharp increase in herd numbers – cost $ 2.5 billion in crop losses. But the 1930s, 40s, and 50s also saw huge and disastrous increases.
Some of them expanded to various regions to reach the numbers necessary to be declared “plague”. Overall, the FAO estimates that the desert locust affects the livelihoods of one in 10 people on the planet, making it the most dangerous migratory pest in the world.
NOTE: Deceleration means that lobsters are present at low density. The appearance means that many locust outbreaks have intensified through reproduction; Plague means severe, generalized infection that lasts for more than a year; The end of the plague is called the fall.
New locust swarms are evolving
Earlier this year, the worst desert locust swarm in decades destroyed crops and pastures in East Africa and beyond, threatening the food security of the entire subregion.
The voracious worms spread rapidly in January and February in several East African countries, including Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia, as well as in areas of Pakistan. It became the worst infection in Kenya in 70 years and the worst in Somalia and Ethiopia in 25.
FAO now fears that March and the aftermath of favorable wet weather will once again lead to a second wave of herds posing an “unforeseen threat” to livelihoods. The number of pests could multiply by 20, FAO warns, unless control activities are intensified.
Many countries are on lobster alert
This could be particularly devastating in East Africa, a region already experiencing widespread food insecurity due to conflict, droughts and floods. But the situation is also worrying in Iran and Yemen, FAO says, where new swarms are also developing.
Tens of thousands of hectares of crops and pastures have already been damaged by locusts in East Africa. FAO says that earlier this year, herds were consuming 1.8 million tons of vegetation per day in 350 square kilometers (135 square miles). The organization believes that a herd in Kenya covered an area of 40 by 60 km (25 mi and 40 mi).
How much can a grasshopper eat?
An adult desert locust can eat its own weight in food every day: about 2g Infographic showing how much an adult desert locust can eat. It consumes about 2 grams, the equivalent of its own body weight. A one-square-kilometer herd can consume the same amount as 35,000 people.
The prospect of a new wave of locusts in Kenya and Ethiopia, possibly bigger than ever, is worrying in itself, but the timing couldn’t be worse, says Keith Cressman, FAO’s Senior Locust Prediction Officer. Now is the beginning of the rainy season in those countries and the beginning of planting. The seeds are sprouting and sprouting and now there are swarms of locusts.
These current maturing swarms will soon lay eggs that will produce another generation of locusts that will mature near harvest time, Cressman says, threatening crops twice. The locust crisis also comes at a time when countries are complicating containment operations, with associated restrictions on movements, along with an increase in coronavirus cases.
Ali Bila Wako, a 68-year-old farmer working in northeastern Kenya, was among those affected by the recent herds. They expected a good cereal harvest this season, ending a long dry spell with recent rains. But the lobsters destroyed all of their corn and beans in February.
“They ate most of our grain and what they didn’t eat dried up,” he says. “It hurts a lot. We saw the food with our own eyes but we didn’t even enjoy it.” Recalling locust invasions of the past in the 1960s, Waco describes how swarms darken the skies. “It’s dark and you can’t even see the sun,” he says.
Extreme weather aggravated the crisis
The cause of the current disturbance is attributed to the cyclone and heavy rains of 2018-19. Desert locusts typically live in the arid regions of about 30 countries between West Africa and India, an area of about 16 million kilometers (6.2 million square miles).
But two years ago, favorable and humid conditions in the southern Arabian Peninsula allowed three generations of lobsters to thrive undetected, the United Nations says.
Ups and downs that develop from 2018
In early 2019, the first herds that made their way to Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Iran were breeding before moving to East Africa. By the end of last year, more swarms had formed in Eritrea, Djibouti and Kenya. Now spring breeding is expected to lead to more infections in East Africa, Yemen and southern Iran in the coming months.
Although these infestations are known to fight due to the wide geographic area affected, FAO’s Mr Cressmann believes that more could have been done earlier to combat this particular locust. If there were more and more successful control efforts in some of the major countries, it could have alleviated the situation, he said.
People trying to deal with large herds
With locust swarms unprecedented in terms of their size and destructive potential in East Africa, countries are struggling to deal with them. Outbreak prevention depends on two main factors: effective surveillance and control.
The Desert Locust Information Service, operated by FAO, provides forecasts, early warnings and alerts on the timing, scale and location of invasion and reproduction. But once populations reach critical levels, as in East Africa, immediate steps must be taken to reduce locust populations, as well as to prevent more swarms from forming and spreading.
How to deal with the locust swarm?
Although more environmentally friendly solutions are being investigated, such as the introduction of biological insecticides or natural predators, the most widely used control method is the insecticide in spray.
With insects showered through handpumps, ground vehicles, or airplanes, entire swarms can be attacked and killed with chemicals in a relatively short period of time. For this reason, FAO is currently working with governments to conduct several aerial pesticide spraying campaigns.
So far, more than 240,000 hectares have been treated in 10 countries and hundreds of people have been trained to conduct operations on the ground. The operation is much more efficient than before, Cressmann says, and restrictions on movements caused by the coronavirus have not significantly hampered operations.
But controlling such large populations of insects in large and remote areas remains a logistical challenge. Mr. Cressman explains that you never really know what percentage of lobsters you have successfully targeted.
But what action is taken now will decide what happens next. If the current outbreak crosses more borders and affects more areas, destroying more crops, a “pest” can be declared. For this reason, it’s important to “shake hands and share knowledge and skills” to keep things from getting worse, Cressman says.
However, for Kenyan farmer Ali Bila Wako, that action is too late. The only thing he and his family could do to fight the pests when they landed was hit and yell at the jerrycan. Still, he remains philosophical about what happened. “It’s God’s will. It’s his army,” he says.