The desert locust, Schistocerca gregaria (Forskål), is one of about a dozen species of short-horned grasshoppers that can form dense, mobile adults’ swarms or huge hopper bands. Desert locust probably is the oldest and most dangerous migratory pest globally, affecting up to 60 countries in Africa, the Middle East and South West Asia. Magnitude of plagues and destruction they cause are due to exceptional gregariousness, mobility, voracity and size of swarms. Sudden and severe damage can be caused to a wide variety of crops. The outbreaks can result in substantial effects on national and regional food security and agricultural and agropastoral livelihoods when they reach upsurge or plague levels. In addition, social costs to the local human population during outbreaks can be enormous, but difficult to estimate. For decades, a preventive control strategy has been implemented under the aegis of the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Rome, Italy. This strategy aims to intervene early against localized outbreaks before plague status is reached, thus limiting the amount of pesticides used. This strategy is constantly being improved to take advantage of the latest technologies in communications, geographic information systems, satellite remote sensing, drones, models and early warning systems. FAO operates a centralised Desert Locust Information Service to monitor weather, ecological conditions and locust situation on a daily basis to assess current situation and forecast timing, scale and location of breeding, gregarization and migration up to six weeks in advance. Locust survey and control are primarily the responsibility of locust affected countries and are operations undertaken by national locust units. Several regional locust organizations also assist with survey and control operations. The effectiveness of this strategy has been proven for several decades, significantly reducing the frequency and magnitude of invasions since the 1960s. However, a number of challenges remain to make the control of this pest more efficient, sustainable and environmentally friendly.
This datasheet on Schistocerca gregaria covers Identity, Overview, Distribution, Hosts/Species Affected, Diagnosis, Biology & Ecology, Natural Enemies, Impacts, Uses, Prevention/Control, Further Information.