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The 2019–2020 upsurge of the desert locust and its impact in Pakistan


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The recent upsurge of the desert locust Schistocerca gregaria (Forskål, 1775) has had an impact on East Africa and the Middle East as far as India. It has affected and slowed down many aspects of the Pakistani economy. Swarms of locusts have infested many areas and caused immense damage to all types of crops. Both farmers and economists are concerned and are trying to get the most up-to-date information on the best strategy to manage this pest. This paper is an attempt to (i) provide insight into the dynamics of this upsurge internationally as well as in the various regions of Pakistan, (ii) briefly assess its local impact and locust control measures, and (iii) clarify the role of the various stakeholders in the management, both nationally and internationally, suggesting various improvements for the future.
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Journal of orthoptera research 2021, 30(2)
Journal of Orthoptera Research 2021, 30(2): 145–154
The recent upsurge of the desert locust Schistocerca gregaria (Forskål,
1775) has had an impact on East Africa and the Middle East as far as India.
It has affected and slowed down many aspects of the Pakistani economy.
Swarms of locusts have infested many areas and caused immense dam-
age to all types of crops. Both farmers and economists are concerned and
are trying to get the most up-to-date information on the best strategy to
manage this pest. This paper is an attempt to (i) provide insight into the
dynamics of this upsurge internationally as well as in the various regions
of Pakistan, (ii) briefly assess its local impact and locust control measures,
and (iii) clarify the role of the various stakeholders in the management,
both nationally and internationally, suggesting various improvements for
the future.
control strategies, crop damage, desert locust, outbreak, pest, Schistocerca
In 2019 and 2020, large swarms of desert locusts again threat-
ened parts of East Africa and large areas as far as India and Pakistan
via the Arabian Peninsula. The Food and Agriculture Organization
(FAO) of the United Nations has described this locust situation
as the most serious in decades (FAO 2019, 2020a). The swarms
reached Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania, which had not faced a
threat of this magnitude for 70 years. Although we have already
seen classic images of these devastating swarms in the past, their
impact is still impressive. Trees can twist and branches can break
under the weight of locusts. Without adequate means of control,
farmers are made desperate by the loss of their crops. Equipped
with manual sprayers and often poorly protected against insec-
ticides, technicians try to fight against these insects where only
aerial means would be effective. Fortunately, even if detected too
late, this upsurge quickly became the subject of major control op-
erations, with the assistance of various donors and under the co-
ordination of the FAO. However, after two years of intensive fight-
ing, the situation is still not under control. In early 2021, calm
returned to Southwest Asia, and in particular Pakistan, but these
swarms have yet to be contained in the Horn of Africa (Dowlatch-
ahi et al. 2020b).
The desert locust Schistocerca gregaria (Forskål, 1775) (Insecta:
Orthoptera: Acrididae) is considered a serious agricultural pest
in West and North Africa, the Middle East, and Southwest Asia
(Steedman 1990, Cressman 2016, Lecoq 2019), and regular inva-
sions of this insect pose a real threat to agricultural production
and have devastating consequences for food security in more than
50 countries (Lecoq 2003, 2004, 2005, Brader et al. 2006). The
social impact of an invasion can be visible in the long term, even
after 20 years (De Vreyer et al. 2014). Like other locust species,
the desert locust exhibits phase polyphenism, a plastic response
to population density associated with several changes in behavio-
ral, morphological, anatomical, and physiological traits. Isolated,
harmless, and hidden solitary locusts transform into huge hopper
bands and devastating swarms of the gregarious form under condi-
tions of overpopulation (Uvarov 1921, 1966, Pener and Simpson
2009, Piou et al. 2017). Of the 31 million km2 that can be invaded
by the desert locust (the invasion area), the remission area (where
low-density solitary-phase populations exist during calm peri-
ods) covers only 15 million km2. In this zone, the outbreak areas
(where the first outbreaks that could lead to invasions occur due to
appropriate ecological characteristics) occupy an even smaller area
of about 1.7 million km2 (Sword et al. 2010, Gay P.E. p.c.).
The lifespan of a locust generation, under optimal conditions, is
40–50 days, and the annual number of generations varies between
two and three. Young adults may remain immature (quiescent) for
several months until they find moist conditions favorable for egg
laying, with 20–25 mm of rainfall being normally sufficient (Du-
ranton and Lecoq 1990, Symmons and Cressman 2001). As rainfall
is seasonally distributed throughout the habitat area, this results
in the existence of three main breeding seasons—spring, summer,
and winter—between which the imagos undertake seasonal migra-
tions to benefit from favorable breeding conditions (COPR 1982,
The 2019–2020 upsurge of the desert locust and its impact in Pakistan
riffat sultana1, santosh Kumar2, ahmed ali sameJo1, samiallah soomro1, michel lecoq3
1 Department of Zoology, University of Sindh, Jamshoro, Sindh, Pakistan.
2 Department of Zoology, Cholistan University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, Bahawalpur, Punjab, Pakistan.
3 CIRAD, UMR CBGP, F-34398 Montpellier, France.
Corresponding author: Riffat Sultana (
Academic editor: Daniel Petit | Received 15 March 2021 | Accepted 10 May 2021 | Published 7 October 2021
Citation: Sultana R, Kumar S, Samejo AA, Soomro S, Lecoq M (2021) The 2019–2020 upsurge of the desert locust and its impact in Pakistan. Journal of
Orthoptera Research 30(2): 145–154.
Research Article
Journal of orthoptera research 2021, 30(2)
Duranton and Lecoq 1990, Steedman 1990, Symmons and Cress-
man 2001). During periods of remission, solitary populations are
dispersed in desertic areas. There, gregarization (transformation of
locusts from solitary to gregarious) begins in the outbreak areas,
thanks to rainy sequences favorable to reproduction in grouped
vegetation and on mainly sandy or sandy-clay soils (Collett et al.
1998, Despland et al. 2000, Cissé et al. 2013). Outbreaks develop
and then, if good conditions persist, follow increasingly severe
phases of upsurge and plague (classic terminology defined by FAO
2009a) as populations and the number of occupied sites increase.
The invasions develop intermittently and, in the past, have fre-
quently persisted for 5, 10, or more years (Sword et al. 2010).
Since the 1960s, a preventive control strategy has been recom-
mended by the FAO based on the monitoring of outbreak areas
and ecological conditions (Showler et al. 2021, Lecoq 2003, 2004,
Sword et al. 2010), followed, if necessary, by early intervention and
thus limited use of pesticides. The implementation of this strat-
egy helps to maintain low densities and to stop any outbreak as
soon as possible (Duranton and Lecoq 1990, Martini et al. 1998,
Magor et al. 2008, Sword et al. 2010). Consequently, and with 60
years of hindsight, it is clear that invasions are now less frequent,
smaller in scale and, if they cannot be stopped at an early stage,
shorter and better managed (Magor et al. 2008, Sword et al. 2010).
However, financial and political uncertainties, as well as recurrent
insecurity in many areas of desert locust distribution, continue to
maintain the threat, and some outbreaks cannot be stopped at an
early stage, as was observed again recently (Meynard et al. 2020,
Showler and Lecoq 2021, Showler et al. 2021).
Pakistan has historically been subject to periodic swarm inva-
sions. The country also contains outbreak areas, where particu-
larly ecological conditions can favor, when suitable rains occur,
the concentration, reproduction, and intensive multiplication of
locusts and give rise to outbreaks and plagues. In recent years, the
greatest outbreaks were noted in 1993 and 1997. These invasions
have caused incalculable damage to crops, sometimes leading to
severe famines. The recent upsurge in 2019–2020 seriously affected
the country (Dowlatchahi 2020a). Here, we present a summary of
these two years of upsurge by focusing on its impact in Pakistan, the
damage caused in this country, and the surveillance and control op-
erations undertaken. Furthermore, we try to clarify, both nationally
and internationally, the role of the various stakeholders in the man-
agement of this pest, suggesting some improvements for the future.
Materials and methods
The general pattern of the current global upsurge was taken
from the Desert Locust Bulletin produced monthly by FAO-DLIS
(Desert Locust Information Service) in Rome based on informa-
tion from all the countries within the desert locust habitat area
(FAO 2019, 2020a). These bulletins also provide information
about the likely migration of swarms based on the study of the
meteorological situation and the use of migration trajectory mod-
els. Meteorological data and remote sensing imagery are used to
help estimate rainfall, detect green vegetation, and identify areas
where ecological conditions may be favorable for locust breeding
(Cressman 2008). Regarding Pakistan, close contacts were main-
tained with the Department of Plant Protection (DPP)—the lead
institution tasked with monitoring and managing the desert lo-
cust threat in Pakistan—to obtain information on the ongoing
invasion and damage in various regions of the country. Desert lo-
cust field information was collected by DPP survey teams accord-
ing to a standardized procedure recommended by FAO-DLIS and
was used to produce monthly locust situation maps (Cressman
2001). Contacts were also maintained with inhabitants, farmers,
and local entomologists to obtain more daily information on
the presence and migration of locusts. In addition, field surveys
were carried out by the authors in different locust-affected locali-
ties, mainly in Sindh province; locust samples were collected, and
photos were taken in different affected areas of Sindh to document
the situation on the ground.
General course of the desert locust upsurge in 2019–2020
The last major desert locust plague ended in 1962 (Magor et al.
2008, Sword et al. 2010). In recent years, for Pakistan, the greatest
outbreaks were in 1993 and 1997 (FAO 1993, 1997). Globally, the
last major upsurge was in 2004–2005 (FAO 2004, 2005). At the
end of 2018, the situation was calm throughout the desert locust
habitat area (FAO 2018). The FAO situation bulletins contained
almost no observations; in particular, no gregarious formations
were reported, and there was a single report of a group of hoppers
in northern Somalia during September. Then suddenly, in Decem-
ber 2018, laying swarms were reported on the coast of the Red Sea,
in Sudan, and in Eritrea. In January 2019, such laying swarms were
also seen on both sides of the Red Sea, and immature swarms were
seen in Saudi Arabia (FAO 2019). Iran and Pakistan were warned
of the possible migration of swarms. The situation quickly escalat-
ed in the following months (Figs 1, 2). Southern Iran was affected
in February, Pakistan in March, and India in May. The desert locust
situation continued to worsen across the Arabian Peninsula. In
June, the Horn of Africa (Sudan, Eritrea, Djibouti, and Somalia)
was affected by swarms originating from Yemen. In this region, the
cyclonic rains and floods of October and November 2019 created
good conditions in which the desert locust could continue to mul-
tiply. Kenya was infested as of December 2019. From June to De-
cember, the locust situation remained serious in southwest Asia,
particularly in Pakistan and western India. In 2020, the desert lo-
cust situation continued to worsen (FAO 2020a). Strong spring
breeding occurred in April, May, and June. The locust situation
remained critical in the eastern region in Iran, Pakistan, and India
until August and was only brought under control beginning in
September. This was largely a result of the capacity and experience
of these countries to monitor and control desert locusts in their
outbreak areas. On the other hand, the desert locust situation did
not improve on both sides of the Red Sea and the Horn of Africa,
where, in December 2020, it was deemed very critical. In the end,
and for the moment, only West Africa has been spared.
Although not seen until January 2019, the development of this
upsurge was the result of favorable conditions for the desert lo-
cust, which were occurring as early as 2018. Two cyclones brought
heavy rains in the Rub al Khali, or Empty Quarter of the Arabic
peninsula, in May and October 2018 (FAO 2020b). Rains were
very heavy in Yemen, Oman, Djibouti, northern Somalia, east-
ern Ethiopia, and southern Saudi Arabia (Meynard et al. 2020).
Favorable conditions for desert locust breeding were maintained
for many consecutive months, allowing at least three successive
generations to develop. However, locusts went undetected and
unchecked for a significant amount of time, mainly due to the
insecure conditions in the areas of origin, particularly in Yemen
(Showler and Lecoq 2021). Had the initial outbreak in Saudi Ara-
bia’s Rub al Khali been detected in the early stage and controlled
in the summer of 2018, swarms may not have reached Yemen, the
Journal of orthoptera research 2021, 30(2)
African Red Sea coast, and parts of Iran. In addition, an initially
weak response in Iran (where very heavy flooding in the south-
west of the country allowed two generations of breeding) allowed
swarms to move to Pakistan and India (FAO 2020c, d), where an
unusually long summer monsoon resulted in three generations of
breeding along both sides of the Indo-Pakistan border.
The 2019–2020 upsurge dynamic in Pakistan
In early 2019, no locusts were reported in Pakistan. It was
not until March that isolated solitarious adults first appeared on
the Baluchistan coast in the Uthal region west of Karachi, pre-
sumably coming from Iran, which had been invaded in previ-
ous months. On the 16th March, a mature swarm and groups of
mating and laying adults were seen on the coast at Pasni, on the
Iranian border, and in the Kulanch valley region, west of Pas-
ni (Fig. 3). These arrivals continued in April, and the migrant
populations continued to lay eggs. In April, the first larvae of
the spring reproduction appeared in Balochistan in the coastal
areas of Pasni. Hoppers continued to emerge and develop in May
between Turbat and Gwadar, near Uthal, and in the interior near
Kharan. Groups of gregarious hoppers of all stages were then
found, mixed with scattered adults. The spring breeding ended
in early June in Balochistan, with a last report of a laying swarm
Fig. 1. General situation of the desert locust from January to December 2019 (modified from FAO 2019). Swarms or hopper bands:
immature adults, red square; mature adults, blue triangle; maturity unknown, black triangle up; egg laying or eggs, black triangle down;
hoppers, black circle; hoppers and adults, combined symbols. Groups of adults or hoppers: same symbols but hollowed out. Density
unknown: same symbols, but partial.
Journal of orthoptera research 2021, 30(2)
on 1st June near Lasbela, while hoppers and hopper groups per-
sisted near Lasbela, Turbat, Gwadar, and in the northern interior
near Dalbandin.
The adults from the spring breeding gradually migrated to the
summer breeding area (June–November) on the Indo-Pakistan
border. Some swarms may have originated from the Horn of Af-
rica after migrating over the Indian Ocean. This summer breeding
started at the end of May with scattered gregarious adults that
appeared during the last week of May near the Indian border
southeast of Chaman starting to lay. It developed mainly in June,
July, and August in the Nara, Cholistan, and Thar deserts east of
the Indus Valley. In Cholistan, egg laying continues until August.
Thus, from mid-August, outbreaks of a second generation caused
locust numbers to further increase. This second generation de-
veloped mainly in September, October, and November. Wide-
spread breeding was then observed in the deserts of Cholistan,
Nara, and Thar, where numerous hopper bands were forming,
giving rise to numerous swarms. During November and Decem-
ber, a third generation of breeding occurred in the Thar, Nara,
and Cholistan deserts, where numerous hopper groups formed,
resulting in numerous adult groups and immature swarms (FAO
2019) (Fig. 4).
The swarms then began to move westward to the winter-spring
breeding areas (February–June). Cross-border movements of
swarms from the summer breeding areas of Rajasthan in India oc-
curred. On 11 November, an immature westward swarm was seen
flying over Karachi. In southern Balochistan, immature swarms
from the summer breeding areas started to arrive in December.
Fig. 2. General situation of the desert locust from January to December 2020 (modified from FAO 2020a). Swarms or hopper bands:
immature adults, red square; mature adults, blue triangle; maturity unknown, black triangle up; egg laying or eggs, black triangle down;
hoppers, black circle; hoppers and adults, combined symbols. Groups of adults or hoppers: same symbols but hollowed out. Density
unknown: same symbols, but partial.
Journal of orthoptera research 2021, 30(2)
In January 2020, a few nymphs of the 3rd generation continued
to molt. Groups of immature adults persisted in the Thar, Nara,
and Cholistan deserts. Cross-border movements of immature
swarms continued westward. On 21 February, three swarms report-
edly arrived in the Afghan province of Khost from adjacent areas
in northwest Pakistan.
A new spring breeding started in March 2020 and went until
May. During March, breeding took place mainly in Balochistan
(Khuzdar, Nushki, Washuk, Kharan and Dalbandin, Chagai, Pan-
jgur, Turbat, and Pasni) and in the Indus valley (Rajanpur, Kash-
more, Sukkur, Dera Ismail Khan, and Rohri), as well as in the
plains of Punjab. Breeding continued into April and May, and a
second generation of laying began in mid-April in the north near
Dalbandin in Balochistan. As a result of this breeding, an increas-
ing number of adult groups and immature swarms formed and
began to mature during May.
During June, as conditions dried out, these swarms moved
from the spring breeding areas eastward to the summer breeding
areas of the Cholistan, Nara, and Thar deserts in Punjab and Sindh
provinces. Some continued to India due to the too-dry conditions.
Summer breeding started in late June and continued into July
and August. Numerous first-generation hopper groups and bands
formed, especially in the Thar desert up to the Indian border in the
extreme southeast of Sindh. The imaginal molts began during the
first week of August, causing groups of immature adults to form
on the Indian border.
Then, in September, the situation improved dramatically. In
Sindh, a very limited second-generation breeding occurred in
September west of Hyderabad and in Tharparkar. Improvement
continued in October, and no locusts were seen in November and
December (Dowlatchahi et al. 2020b, FAO 2020a, d).
Damage and control measures in Pakistan
Damage.—The desert locust can consume most plant species and
crops (COPR 1982). Only a few plants are not eaten, such as the
neem Azadirachta indica A. Juss., Genista sp. (broom bush), and
Euphorbia hirta L. (asthma plant). Indeed, during this upsurge, a
great deal of damage was caused to all types of crops, including
wheat, cotton, rice, sugarcane, tobacco, corn, chickpea (gram)
sunflower, sorghum, pearl millet, mung bean (Vigna radiata (L.)
R. Wilczek), muth bean (Vigna aconitifolia Jacq.), sesame, cluster
bean (guar), potato, tomato, cabbage, cauliflower, carrot, peas,
onion, melon, cucumber, water-melon, chilies, eggplant (brinjal),
okra (lady finger), mango, citrus, apple, grapes, strawberry, peach-
es, banana, and guava.
This upsurge has been devastating for a country where agricul-
ture represents around 20% of the GDP and where 61% of the pop-
ulation lives and works in agricultural areas (FAO 2016). About 52
districts were reported to have suffered locust damage. According to
FAO estimates in May 2020 and assuming that the damage accounts
for about 25% of growing crops, losses could reach 353 billion Paki-
stani rupees (2.19 billion US$) for “rabi crops” (sown in winter and
harvested in spring) and about 464 billion Pakistani rupees (2.88
billion US$) for “kharif crops” (summer sown crops) (FAO 2020e).
The final balance has yet to be established and, in the end, the dam-
age from this upsurge will undoubtedly be much higher. In 2020,
the Government of Pakistan’s preliminary estimate of monetary
losses due to desert locusts over the two coming agricultural seasons
in 2020 and 2021 may range from 3.4 billion US$ to 10.21 billion
US$. More than 3 million people in Pakistan are facing severe acute
food insecurity, with the situation particularly precarious in Balo-
chistan. It is estimated that approximately 34,000 households will
need emergency livelihood and food security assistance due to crop
losses. Many more people may be indirectly affected by crop losses,
leading to price rises in key commodities (FAO 2020).
Control measures.—To better coordinate control operations, the
Government of Pakistan declared the locust invasions to be an
emergency. Many anticipatory measures have been taken in col-
laboration with the FAO, in coordination with neighboring coun-
tries, and with the support of international partners to face the
threat and be ready to respond quickly and effectively (FAO 2019,
2020a). In addition, the Space and Upper Atmosphere Research
Fig. 3. Desert locust breeding areas in Southern Pakistan during invasions (adapted from Symmons and Cressman 2001). Arrows: main
orientation of migrating swarms in March–July (blue) and August–October (red).
Journal of orthoptera research 2021, 30(2)
Fig. 4. Photos of the desert locust in Pakistan. A–D. Outbreaks in various localities during the 2019–2020 upsurge; E, F. Individual and
group mating in the Thar desert (photos from the authors).
Journal of orthoptera research 2021, 30(2)
Commission (SUPARCO) has helped through the use of remote
sensing used to delimit the areas more vulnerable to locust attacks
in the various affected districts of Pakistan based on vegetation,
soil type, and other factors.
Large areas, about 65 M ha, were surveyed by the DPP, and
in 2 years, based on data collected by the FAO (2019, 2020a), a
total of 566,390 ha was treated (FAO 2019, 2020b). Most of the
treatment was done using specialized ultra-low volume (ULV)
vehicle-mounted sprayers, mainly with malathion (ULV formula-
tion) in desert areas and lambda-cyhalothrin (EC formulation) for
protection against desert locust attacks in crop production areas;
543,370 ha were treated by land (Fig. 5). Only a small part was
treated by air (23,020 hectares). According to DPP, aerial spraying
was carried out on locust hoppers when large areas were involved;
otherwise, ground spraying was considered more effective. As with
other neighboring South Asian countries, Pakistan was unprepared
for the scale of the upsurge (Balakrishnan 2020). One challenge
DPP had to deal with was obsolete or non-functional equipment
for control operations, as the last serious desert locust outbreak was
over 25 years ago (Dowlatchahi et al. 2020b). Small aircrafts for
pesticide spraying were unavailable or not operational. Some also
expressed regret that control operations started too late and that
the federal government did not take the threat seriously enough
from the start in 2019, when locusts were confined to Balochistan
(Ellis-Petersen and Baloch 2020, Nawaz 2020). When operations
finally started, despite the efforts of government authorities, DPP,
local authorities and local inhabitants/farmers, it took 16 months,
from March 2019 to September 2020, for the upsurge to be brought
under control in Pakistan and in the whole eastern region, includ-
ing India and Iran. Ultimately, the control of this upsurge was a
success, which was the result of extensive, strategically planned, and
technically well-executed control operations in the country. Strong
coordination at federal and provincial levels and with all relevant
actors carried out under the National Locust Control Centre set
up in Islamabad increased the effectiveness of the response (Dow-
latchahi et al. 2020b). For all the countries affected by this upsurge,
4,891,150 ha were treated for the years 2019 and 2020 (Table 1).
However, at the start of 2021, the situation remained very worrying
in the Horn of Africa and in the Arabian Peninsula. It is not yet time
to put down our guard, and vigorous monitoring to detect any signs
of breeding desert locust is necessary (Dowlatchahi et al. 2020b).
Table 1. Areas sprayed with pesticides to control the desert lo-
cust upsurge in 2019–2020 over all affected regions (source FAO
2019, 2020a).
Countries ha sprayed Countries ha sprayed Countries ha sprayed
Afghanistan 2969 Jordania 2900 Saudi Arabia 505829
Algeria 1138 Kenya 168484 Somalia 170495
Bahrain 3 Kuwait 15841 Sudan 331368
Egypt 24206 Libya 70 South Sudan 250
Eritrea 113794 Mali 40 UAE 6102
Ethiopia 1177607 Mauritania 10 5 6 Uganda 7154
India 682790 Niger 3897 Yemen 58709
Iran 103 6 510 Oman 13907
Iraq 2610 Pakistan 566390 TOTAL 4891150
Fig. 5. Areas sprayed with pesticides in Pakistan to control the
desert locust upsurge in 2019–2020 (source FAO 2019, 2020a).
In some areas, local governments have announced compensa-
tion measures for farmers who have suffered from locust attacks.
Amid the current COVID-19 pandemic, farmers have found it diffi-
cult to control locusts on their own due to restrictions on transport
and communication. The supply of reliable, affordable pesticides
and spraying equipment has been insufficient. There are no crop
insurance programs in the country, and in some areas, farmers have
had to plant crops twice, as the first crops were completely eaten
up by locusts. Locusts were not only attacking crops, but also dam-
aging rangelands and other vegetation. Thus, livestock keepers and
nomadic communities were also suffering. Such damage was most
visible in arid regions like Balochistan, where rangelands were al-
ready in poor condition. Many affected areas were not treated due
to a lack of small airplanes that can be used for spraying pesticides.
Farmers have been known to adopt different ways to protect their
crops besides insecticide treatments. For instance, one measure taken
by many was beating drums at high volume to scare the locusts. In
some areas, farmers also used smoke from burning bushes and veg-
etation to repel them. According to some local people, since the last
major attack was 58 years ago, the current generation has no direct
experience of handling locusts using local knowledge (Nawaz 2020).
They may not be fully aware of methods to catch locusts or about
how to use them as a food source, a compensatory measure that can
reduce the number of locusts locally and provide a food supplement
to poor and undernourished rural populations (Samejo et al. 2021).
The way forward—Institutional aspects and preventative
actions for the future
The situation Pakistan faced in 2019–2020 was the most se-
rious in many years. Nevertheless, desert locust invasions are
now better controlled, being less frequent, less important, and of
shorter duration than in the past (Sword et al. 2010, Zhang et al.
2019). The large invasions that followed one another with a high
frequency ended at the beginning of the 1960s with the establish-
ment of a proactive/preventive strategy and thanks to increasingly
effective surveillance and continuously improving control meth-
ods (Magor et al. 2008, Sword et al. 2010, Lecoq 2019).
Clearly, the problem remains. These invasions are, as always,
the result of exceptionally big rains that occurred in the past and
that are certain to continue to occur. Presently, climate change
cannot be blamed for the ongoing upsurge, even though it will
undoubtedly have consequences for outbreaks of this insect in the
future (Meynard et al. 2020). Thus, these desert locust invasions
will continue to occur. Upsurges over the past 50 years that were
Journal of orthoptera research 2021, 30(2)
not stopped at an early stage were the result of gaps or a lack of vig-
ilance in the prevention system implemented at the international
level (Lecoq 2001, 2005). Most often, insecurity in key areas or the
too-late provision of emergency funds are the cause of these up-
surges. Then, control operations start too late, often in countries
that are still poorly prepared, and the swarms disseminate rapidly
(Showler and Lecoq 2021). Therefore, the countries concerned,
and Pakistan in particular, must remain mobilised to improve the
prevention system. Addressing these challenges requires invest-
ment into making the country capable of handling the menace
(Dowlatchahi et al. 2020a, b). For more information on preven-
tion system failures, see Showler (2019) and Showler et al. (2021).
Like other front-line countries, Pakistan contains certain desert
locust outbreak areas, located in desertic areas on the Indo-Pakistan
border and in the Makran region on the border with Iran (Symmons
and Cressman 2001, Cressman 2016). Pakistan, therefore, plays a
key role in the prevention strategy by conducting regular surveil-
lance of these areas. However, the country can also be invaded by
swarms that originate outside its borders, as was the case in 2019.
International cooperation is essential to better control these migra-
tory insects. As mandated by its Member States, the FAO ensures the
coordination of monitoring and control activities of the desert lo-
cust on an international scale (Lecoq 2003). Via its Desert Locust
Information Service (DLIS), it issues a monthly locust situation and
forecast bulletin (FAO 2009b). This bulletin is based on reports from
the affected countries, as well as on the analysis of the ecological
conditions in the habitats of the locust (using satellite remote sens-
ing data, weather reports related to rains and direction of the winds,
etc.) (Cressman 2008, 2013). In addition, the FAO provides a forum
for the meetings of the Desert Locust Control Committee (DLCC),
formed by representatives from all the countries affected by desert
locust as well as those that take part in locust control campaigns.
Since 1955, Pakistan has been a member of both the DLCC
and the South West Asia Commission (SWAC), established in
1964 under Article XIV of the FAO Constitution. SWAC has four
member states: Afghanistan, India, Iran, and Pakistan. All activi-
ties of SWAC contribute to the strengthening of the national ca-
pacities of its member countries in desert locust survey, control
operations, reporting, training, preparedness, contingency plan-
ning, emergency response, biopesticides, and health and safety
(FAO 2021a). SWAC also promotes cooperation among its mem-
ber countries and, in particular, the conduct of regular joint sur-
veys for desert locust surveillance and early warning, as well as
the exchange of information on the locust situation. It supports
training and capacity building activities and the promotion of
new technologies (FAO 2021a). SWAC is also collaborating with
the other two FAO commissions—CRC for the central region and
CLCPRO for the western region (FAO 2021b, c)—with regard to
the use of biopesticides, the development of risk management
plans, setting up inventory systems, and environmental moni-
toring. Obviously, all of these measures should be developed at
the level of each member state, and it is in Pakistan’s interest to
strengthen its cooperation with SWAC.
As a result, monitoring and preventative organization against
desert locust invasions is a leading example in the field of crop
protection (Hamouny 2021). However, while this prevention sys-
tem is genuinely effective, it also has its flaws, as the current situ-
ation unfortunately reminds us. Various reasons for failure have
been given: inexperience of field survey teams and campaign or-
ganizers, insufficient or inappropriate resources, inaccessibility of
some important breeding areas for security reasons, deterioration
of survey, and control capacities during recession periods (WMO
& FAO 2016). Some issues, such as security concerns, are beyond
Pakistan’s control. Others may find solutions locally. We give de-
tails on three main points below.
1. Desert locust require concerted monitoring and on-the-
ground control effort across borders, along with the resources, ex-
pertise, and infrastructure to support those actions. Moreover, these
efforts must be kept in place over the long term to build resilience,
despite the apparent lack of imminent threats (Lecoq 1991, Gay et
al. 2018). The lack of such coordinated and sustained efforts is like-
ly to put human populations at higher risk. Pakistan had to fight
the recent upsurge with insufficient funding, operational resources,
obsolete equipment, and an eroded expertise that left the DPP with
only a few high-level experts (Dowlatchahi et al. 2020a, b). The
highest priorities should therefore be (a) to ensure that the politi-
cal and socio-economic conditions are in place so that vulnerable
human populations can adapt to new large-scale threats and (b)
to maintain a long-term risk assessment culture with ongoing fi-
nancial, material, and expertise support (Meynard et al. 2020). Per-
haps maintaining funding mechanisms that provide sustainable
support during periods of recession, when priorities are elsewhere,
is one of the most difficult but key points to be solved. Yet, it has
been shown that funding institutions (governments, donors) could
considerably improve the effectiveness of the prevention system by
increasing their support by only a few percent (Gay et al. 2018).
2. Pakistan, as with all countries concerned with the desert
locust, must remain ready and develop compensatory measures
for the local populations in the event of an invasion that is not
controlled early on. Farmers are most often helpless in the face
of the threat from locusts. Prevention remains the best rampart,
but if this fails, local populations must have access to informa-
tion, advice, and support, both technical and financial. It is advis-
able, for instance, to develop desert locust control material for the
education of farmers and agriculture extension staff and organize
farmers’ schools for desert locust control.
3. Finally, current treatments are based almost exclusively
on traditional chemical insecticides that pose various risks to both
human health and the environment (Everts and Ba 1997, Sam-
ways and Lockwood 1998, van der Valk 1998, Peveling 2001, FAO
2014). The end result of these quick control measures is still mas-
sive damage, both to crops and, perhaps worse, to the ecosystem,
from the enormous amounts of pesticides sprayed (Balakrishnan
2020). Alternative products such as mycopesticides, which have
been used for some time by countries such as Australia and China,
should be able to find a larger audience globally (Lomer et al.
2001, Hunter 2004, 2010, Zhang and Hunter 2005, Zhang 2011).
These products are currently commercially available, and the
ongoing upsurge has given rise to their use in various countries
(Zhang et al. 2019). In 2020, mycopesticides were successfully ap-
plied to at least 10,845 ha in Somalia against desert locusts (FAO
2020g, h). In collaboration with the FAO, trials focused on the
introduction of mycopesticides in Pakistan have been done, which
should obviously be encouraged.
We greatly appreciate the constructive and valuable support of
Dr. M. Tariq Khan, Director Technical, Department of Plant Pro-
tection Karachi, for providing updated information and data. This
study was funded by the Higher Education Commission Islama-
bad, Pakistan (Project No. 6737 SINDH /NRPU /R & D/ HEC).
The authors also thank the Orthopterists’ Society for supporting
the publication of this article.
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... If each locust consumes its weight in plants per day, then a swarm of this size would eat 423,000,000 pounds of vegetation every day. In more than 60 districts of Sindh, Baluchistan, Punjab, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces, a recent swarm (2019-2020) destroyed important crops like wheat, cotton, rice, sugarcane, tobacco, corn, watermelon, chilies, eggplant (brinjal), okra (lady finger), mango, citrus, apple, grapes, strawberry, peaches, banana, and guava (Riffat et al., 2021). Losses for "rabi crops" (sown in winter and harvested in spring) might total 353 billion Pakistani rupees (2.19 billion US dollars), while losses for "kharif crops" (sown in summer) could total 464 billion Pakistani rupees (2.88 billion US dollars) (FAO 2020). ...
... All specimens were gathered from several Sindh districts agricultural fields and rocky abandoned areas (Fig. 3) Materials were delivered to the Department of Zoology, Entomology and Biocontrol Research Laboratory (EBCRL), University of Sindh, Jamshoro. The technique for euthanasia was modified somewhat from (Riffat et al., 2021;Riffat and Wagan, 2015) and involved killing the specimens in conventional entomological death bottles for 5-10 minutes with potassium cyanide or chloroform. Because samples colors may vary, they were not kept around for very long. ...
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Schistocerca gregaria (Forskl, 1775), one of the most notorious insects in the world, significantly harms the economy and agriculture each year. It was reputedly the biggest infestation to hit Pakistan since the 1990s, destroying wheat, rice, sugarcane, cotton, and vegetable crops, and it was also the cause of the worst disaster of 2019–2020. We have extensively examined the external characteristics of this swarm using the mitochondrial Cytochrome C Oxidase subunit 1 (COI), morphometry of the solitary and gregarious phases, influenced host plants, as well as its deterrent status. Swarms of Desert Locusts, which have been on the rise recently, have had a substantial negative influence on Pakistan's agriculture, destroying all kinds of crops. Preliminary projections of the financial losses over the two agricultural seasons in 2020 and 2021 may vary from 3.4 billion US dollars to 10.21 billion US dollars. This drastically increased the price of ordinary products in the market. In addition, locust activity has grown and is presently present in a number of affected areas. For the species to be managed and controlled effectively, accurate species identification is essential. This study seeks to explain this essential management attention
... Cyclones in May and October of 2018 brought heavy rains that gave rise to favorable breeding conditions in the Empty Quarter of the southern Arabian Peninsula for at least nine months. Due to this, three generation of breeding occurred that was undetected and uncontrolled; from 2019 onwards, a massive outbreak of desert locust swept across the greater Horn of Africa and Yemen by reproducing the desert locust exponentially (Dandabathula 2020;Sultana et al. 2021). 441 and 3725 breeding sites were accumulated for hoppers and adults from the Locust-Hub (2022) database. ...
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Understanding the thresholds of influencing parameters that favor the habitability of dangerous pests like desert locusts (Schistocerca gregaria) can aid in early detection and eradication using control operations. The life cycle of the desert locust and its behavioral changes are associated with the weather patterns and the region's ecosystem settings. This study attempts to retrieve the preferential soil conditions like texture and moisture at the surface and subsurface levels for egg-laying by desert locusts. Towards this, Locust Hub, a comprehensive database of desert locusts maintained and disseminated by the Food and Agriculture Organisation under the Locust Watch program, has helped identify the locations of breeding sites reported during 2017-2021. We have extracted sand-silt-clay percentage at these breeding sites using SoilGrids ver. 2.0 from the World Soil Information Service database facilitated by International Soil Reference and Information Centre. Similarly, soil moisture conditions extracted from Level-4 data products of the Soil Moisture Active Passive mission for all these breeding sites aided in essaying the optimal soil conditions for the desert locust's oviposition. The results from this study confirm that successful oviposition has happened in the locations where the sand percentage is in a broad range of 55-70% (for 90% of samples), followed by a narrow range of silt and clay with 19-24% and ~14-20%, respectively. Our experiment has revealed that female desert locusts prefer sandy loam-textured soils for oviposition. Also, it is observed that the female desert locust will prefer soils with moisture at the surface and subsurface in the range of 5-10% and 10-20%, respectively. These results confirm that dampness is required at the surface soil for initiating the oviposition by female desert locusts. Results from this research can aid in the early identification of breeding grounds during desert locusts' invasion period. Our study fills a vital gap in understanding the desert locust ecology and can be a part of the framework connecting locust systems and food security issues.
... This is particularly alarming in regions where food security is already precarious, as locust outbreaks exacerbate existing challenges and disrupt the fragile balance between supply and demand. Additionally, the socioeconomic consequences of these outbreaks can lead to social unrest, migration, and conflicts over limited resources, further destabilizing already fragile regions 1 . ...
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Background: Locust infestations have long been recurrent threats that inflict havoc on agriculture, rural communities, and global food security. Objectives: This study examines the socioeconomic consequences of locust outbreaks on agriculture, rural communities, and food security in Pakistan. Methods: The severity of locust outbreaks and resulting crop losses were analyzed in different regions. Results: In Punjab, the outbreak was categorized as high severity with a crop loss of 40%. Similarly, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa experienced a high severity outbreak with crop losses of 45%. In Sindh and Baluchistan, the outbreaks had a moderate severity with crop losses of 30% in both regions. The outbreaks led to a significant decrease in rural employment from 65% to 40% and a decrease in household income from 60,000 PKR to 35,000 PKR. The prevalence of food insecurity increased from 20% to 45%. Conclusion: These findings highlight the need for effective management strategies, including early warning systems, community-based surveillance, and diverse crop protection methods, to mitigate the negative effects of locust outbreaks and ensure agricultural productivity, rural livelihoods, and food security in Pakistan.
... Kondisi perkebunan yang sesuai dapat ditentukan oleh beberapa kriteria seperti: faktor sosial, ekonomi, dan lingkungan (Muangman et al., 2020). Dukungan finansial, material dan keahlian sangat dibutuhkan untuk menghadapi ketidakpastian harga (Sultana et al., 2021). ...
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... Similar successes of locust management using green technologies have also been documented in Africa [10,11]. Despite these successes, chemical pesticides are the primary control method used in many countries for the management of locust outbreaks [12][13][14][15]. Such excessive use of pesticides can cause devastating effects on the environment, human health, and nontarget species [16][17][18][19][20][21][22]. ...
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Using qualitative methods, this study assessed the stakeholders and management processes involved in locust outbreaks in China, including factors influencing the use of biopesticides. Study findings show that China has an integrated national locust response protocol, which involves various institutions from all administrative levels of the government. The process is inherently highly complex but efficient, with multisectoral agencies working closely together to prevent and/or manage locust outbreaks. In addition, the process has been successful in combating recent outbreaks, due to dedicated government funding, decisive administrative and technical actions, and the empowerment of local government administration. This is the case with the county level acting as a ‘first responder’ that is capacitated financially and technically to respond to a locust invasion in their jurisdiction. Additionally, study findings show that despite the availability of biopesticides in local markets, their use is dampened by inadequate information about market availability, negative perceptions by decision-makers about their efficacy, and concerns about their costs, as well as limited knowledge of their application techniques. Actions are therefore needed by relevant authorities to enhance stakeholder awareness of biopesticide market availability, efficacy, and field application processes. Future areas of research should focus on modelling the expected impact and cost-effectiveness of chemicals vs. biopesticides, thus increasing the evidence base for promoting biopesticide use.
... Copyright 2017 University of Sindh Journal of Animal Sciences In 2019-2020 Pakistan face sever desert locust plague across three provinces. The species were later identified as S. gregaria gregaria travelled all the way from Africa to Asia via Middle East (Sultana et al., 2021Ahmad et al., 2020. This species goes under incomplete metamorphosis. ...
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Desert locust has negative impact on world vegetation, severely affected Africa and Asia in 2020-21. The pest persists in both gregarious and solitary forms. In Pakistan, the majority of the nation experienced a desert locust attack in 2020. Seven to ten districts in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were seriously impacted. The study was carried out to test the efficacy of different concentrations of Lambda-cyhalothrin 2.5 EC against adult and hoppers/nymph in field and laboratory conditions. The applied concentration was 4%,3%, 2%, 1% and 0.5 % for adults in field and lab conditions, while 2%, 1.5%, 1%, 0.5% and 0.25% for nymph’s trials. Under field condition against adults all the applied concentrations were at par with each other except 0.5%, which showed significantly lower mortality rate (60%). A similar trend of toxicity was also recorded for the laboratory trials. More than 85% mortality was recorded in all treatment except 0.5%, which was 65%. Against hopper all concentration showed significant higher mortality (above 80%) except the nymphs sprayed with 0.25% concentration under field conditions. Similar results were also obtained for vitro trials against nymphal stage. It is concluded an average concentration (3%) should be applied for adult to avoid resistance and pest escape. For hoppers/nymph the recommended concentration should be 1%. Further studies should be carried out regarding the resistance to different types of insecticides under field and laboratory conditions.
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Despite the potential ecological and economic impacts of invasive species, there is a dearth of data on the presence, impacts, and management implications of potentially invasive Orthoptera species. This lack of research and inconsistent data, including risk screenings and impact assessments, is especially evident in Europe. Consequently, assessing the status, distribution, and potential threats of nonnative Orthoptera in Europe remains challenging, impeding the development of effective management strategies. To address this gap, we call for increased efforts to collect and curate data on non-native and possibly invasive Orthoptera in Europe. Such efforts will improve our understanding of this order's invasion dynamics, facilitate the identification of priority areas for conservation, and support the development of effective management policies and preventive measures.
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Desert locust invasions are still a danger to the well-being of natural and man-made ecosystems in the tropics. This study examined desert locust invasion duration, survival probability, and control as well as their effects on household food item consumption in the drylands of Uganda. Primary socioeconomic data were collected using various methods (household survey, focus group discussion, and key informant interviews) in May/June 2020 to document the perceptions of households regarding locusts. Our findings reveal that the most significant drivers of desert locust invasions were rainfall, surface temperature, strong winds, soil moisture, soil type, and vegetation type (p ≤ 0.05). The locusts lasted between 3 and 4 weeks. The survival probability of locusts beyond 1 week was 90%. There were significant differences in the day’s food items consumed before and after the locust invasion, except for ground nuts and cashew nuts (p ≤ 0.05). The number of days per month the food items were consumed decreased after the locust invasion. The most effective locust control measure undertaken was the use of ground and aerial pesticide spraying. The major sources of desert locust control information were radio and television. This information is a prerequisite in desert locust invasion preparedness, response, and recovery but can also strengthen sustainable green economy efforts, especially in fragile semi-arid ecosystems.
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From ancient times to the present, infestations of the Central American locust (CAL) [ Schistocerca piceifrons piceifrons (Walker, 1870)] have occurred periodically and with varying intensities in the Yucatan Peninsula (YP), Mexico. Despite efforts to survey the recession zone, an upsurge is still difficult to predict and prevent, and high economic costs are incurred in controlling this pest. For this study, two models were developed to determine the probability of an upsurge in the YP. The first was the Markov chain (MC) with transition probability matrix, which estimates probability by determining the proportion of times that the system moved from one state to another (n 2 ) over 71, 33, and 24 years in Yucatan, Campeche, and the Quintana Roo States, respectively, divided into different periods; a correlation of the matrix and probability (n 2 ) of the next period was performed to evaluate the accuracy of the estimation. The other method is the classic probabilistic (CP) model, which uses the number of times the upsurge could happen and the number of possible events. In the MC model, great variation was found in CAL upsurge probabilities between periods, with a similar number of upsurges from the past to the present but with varying intensity. In recent years, the treated area with insecticides has been less than that of the past. The CP model revealed that the locust population reached its maximum peak every four years, with the migration of swarms to neighboring states at the end/start of the year. Validation of the MC and CP models was performed considering information on areas treated in 2019 and 2020, and good accuracy was obtained. Both models provide information on the probability of an upsurge in the YP. This information can be incorporated into economic models to improve management decisions, such as when to announce early warnings, and to implement preventive control strategies.
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Species of genus Chrotogonus (surface grasshoppers) are phytophagous and damaging to various economical important plants in their seedling stages. In order to know the biodiversity of surface grasshoppers, the detailed study has been conducted from four provinces of Pakistan. During this study, biodiversity, taxonomy, diagnosis, morphometric analysis, habitat, global distribution, and remarks of each species have been described. Total of 826 specimens were collected and sorted out into three species and three subspecies: C. (Chrotogonus) homalodemus homalodemus, C. (Chrotogonus) homalodemus, C. (Chrotogonus) trachypterus trachypterus, C. (Chrotogonus) trachypterus robertsi, C. (Chrotogonus) trachypterus and C. (Chrotogonus) turanicus based on newly constructed morphological keys and previous literature. The species C. (Chrotogonus) turanicus presented as a new record from Pakistan.
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The desert locust has been a notorious pest since ancient times. A population upsurge hit Pakistan in 2019 and caused tremendous damage to agriculture and livelihoods. To take advantage of this ongoing upsurge, we conducted a field study to verify whether locust collection could be an interesting control method to protect crops in the event of an invasion, as well as an accepted food resource for poor rural communities. A village in the Thar desertic region was selected as a type-locality. An awareness campaign was launched to promote the collection and consumption of locusts as well as to alert people of their nutritional value. Two large swarms arrived near the village and several other swarms affected places nearby. Around 3033 kg of locusts were collected through handpicking at night. Most of the locusts were eaten and, as a result, hoppers of the next generation did not emerge in the type-locality; however, hopper bands appeared in areas where entomophagy was not practiced. The study area had less locust activity because swarms could not lay eggs due to entomophagy by the villagers. The consumption of desert locusts could be an effective practice to prevent malnutrition and protein deficiency and, to a certain extent, an efficient mitigation measure to help local populations to better protect themselves and their crops against locust outbreaks. Collection and consumption of locusts should be encouraged while remaining realistic about its real impact on locust control. This should also be done in concert with local authorities to take into account the risks to human health and to avoid the consumption of insects treated with pesticides.
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The desert locust, Schistocerca gregaria (Forskål) (Orthoptera: Acrididae), a major Old World pest, is associated with agricultural losses and undesirable societal effects. There are three broad approaches to its control: reaction, proaction, and outbreak prevention. Reaction protects crops from swarms but it is costly and disruptive. Proaction involves early intervention during outbreaks to avert further development to plague status; it is in current use because it is effective, relatively inexpensive, and it is the best available option for now. Outbreak prevention, largely unavailable since the 1970s, at least on a regional scale, will require highly sensitive surveillance to detect the onset of gregarization. Sufficiently early intervention can, hypothetically, extend desert locust recession indefinitely. While research on desert locust biology and behavior is, almost, no longer an urgent requirement to improve the efficacy of control, new priorities have arisen for developing outbreak prevention capability (and for enhancing proaction). Salient needs presently include long residual tactics for prophylactic (preventive) control in breeding areas, intervention thresholds, and improved, sustainable coordination among stakeholders at national, regional, and international levels. The most recent desert locust episode of 2020 provides an illustrative example of how prevention might have averted the entire upsurge, and how proaction in some countries contained the spread of swarms. The initial outbreak in Saudi Arabia escaped control due to unpreparedness, and impacts of armed conflict in Somalia and Yemen, which weakened surveillance and control, further contributed to the invasion of ≥22 countries, and the spraying of ≈4.9 million ha, by the end of 2020.
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Despite many areas of progress in recent years, desert locust surveillance and control is impaired by many obstacles, the most intractable of which is insecurity. Insecurity involves rebellions, insurgencies, civil and international war, banditry, terrorism, and minefields. Obstruction of desert locust operations in breeding areas by ongoing armed conflict and landmines constitutes “direct” insecurity. “Indirect” insecurity, although less obvious, is arguably more broadly deleterious by debilitating government function and diverting funds, personnel, and equipment from desert locust management. Indirect “active” insecurity is armed conflict and civil unrest that is occurring at the same time as a desert locust episode, but not in the breeding areas. Indirect “inactive” insecurity refers to the after-effects of insecurity, including weak funding because of prior inattention to capacity maintenance during times of direct and indirect active insecurity, disabled or militarily-appropriated vehicles and other resources, destruction of infrastructure, and deployment of mines. We provide examples of direct and indirect insecurity across 35 years, from 1986 through May 2020, in 13 African and Asian countries (Chad, Eritrea, Ethiopia, India, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Western Sahara, and Yemen) with desert locust breeding areas to illustrate the complexity, pervasiveness, and chronic occurrence of insecurity. The upsurge of 2020 is used to show how direct insecurity still contributes to the genesis and expansion of desert locust episodes. Possible mitigation of direct insecurity effects on some desert locust operations is discussed.
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Main useful information on the Desert Locust, a pest of great economic importance : identification and diagnosis, distribution, hosts plants, plant damage & economic impact, reproductive biology, management (biological, cultural and chemical control, early warning system, field monitoring), main information sources.
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Locusts and grasshoppers (Orthoptera: Acridoidea) are among the most dangerous agricultural pests. Their control is critical to food security worldwide and often requires governmental or international involvement. Although locust and grasshopper outbreaks are now better controlled and often shorter in duration and reduced in extent, large outbreaks, often promoted by climate change, continue to occur in many parts of the world. While some locust and grasshopper control systems are still curative, the recognition of the damage these pests can cause and the socioeconomic consequences of locust and grasshopper outbreaks have led to an increasing paradigm shift from crop protection to preventive management. We are far now from a system of all-chemical control that D.L. Gunn wrote about in his review in 1960 (Annu. Rev. Entomol. 5:279–300). Effective preventive management strategy nowadays relies on an improved knowledge of the pest biology and ecology and more efficient monitoring and control techniques.
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Understanding Desert Locust population dynamics is a prerequisite for the implementation of a preventive management strategy against its invasions. The present study aims to describe these dynamics through conducting probability analyses of locust presence in time and space. Historical data from field surveys conducted by management teams in Mauritania and Morocco for the period 1988–2015 were used. Temporal smoothing and spatio-temporal extrapolations were performed on a monthly basis. We established monthly probability maps of locust observation following two scenarios: recession period (mainly solitarious phase) and invasion period (mainly gregarious phase). Also, observation probability maps of hoppers or mature adults allowed the identification of seasonal breeding areas. The methodology highlights the potentially favourable areas to be monitored every year. It also highlights the lack of information in some areas of the two countries. We observed that the seasonal survey process during recession periods follow the seasonal pattern of gregarious invasions. We argue that this is the result of climatic conditions related to the oscillation of the intertropical convergence zone. However, we advise that these similar yearly cycles should not hinder surveys in recession periods to be conducted in places not receiving swarms during invasion periods. Nevertheless, we conclude that these maps should be helpful for planning the preparation of survey teams in the field. This will reduce survey operation costs and decrease invasion risks.
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The desert locust is considered to be the most dangerous of all migratory pest species in the world due to its ability to reproduce rapidly, migrate long distances, and devastate crops. In order to minimize the frequency, severity, and duration of plagues, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations operates a global early warning system based on the latest technological advances that have led to dramatic improvements in data management, analysis, and forecasting. The system can be a model for other early warning systems about migratory pests.
The current outbreak of the Desert Locust has affected much of eastern Africa and has reached as far as Pakistan and India in Asia, generating significant agricultural losses in a region that is already highly unstable economically, politically, and in terms of food security for its human populations. During the last 50 years the management strategy for this pest resulted in a considerable decrease in the number and intensity of outbreaks and plagues. Socio-political instability in some key areas for this locust is mainly responsible of the current situation. Climatic events observed since 2018 fall within the historical range, even if an impact of global changes in the future is foreseeable. The highest priorities should be (a) to ensure that the political and socio-economic conditions are in place so that vulnerable human populations can adapt to new large-scale threats and (b) to maintain a culture of long-term risk assessment with constant necessary means.
Preventive management of locust plagues works in some cases but still fails frequently. The role of funding institution awareness was suggested as a potential facilitating factor for cyclic locust plagues. We designed a multi-agent system to represent the events of locust plague development and a management system with three levels: funding institution, national control unit and field teams. A sensitivity analysis identified the limits and improvements of the management system. The model generated cyclic locust plagues through a decrease in funding institution awareness. The funding institution could improve its impact by increasing its support by just a few percent. The control unit should avoid hiring too many field teams when plagues bring in money, in order to assure that surveys can be maintained in times of recession. The more information the teams can acquire about the natural system, the more efficient they will be. We argue that anti-locust management should be considered as a complex adaptive system. This would not only allow managers to prove to funders the random aspect of their needs, it would also enable funders and decision-makers to understand and integrate their own decisions into the locust dynamics that still regularly affect human populations.