“Trinidad and Tobago have experienced more frequent and severe infestations in recent times. Historically, outbreaks of the
grasshoppers were initially reported every 14 years, but its occurrence is now annually, with locusts having the ability to change their behaviour and migrate over long distances.Oct 31, 2021
In 2020, locusts have swarmed in large numbers in dozens of countries, including Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Somalia, Eritrea, India, Pakistan, Iran, Yemen, Oman and Saudi Arabia. When swarms affect several countries at once in very large numbers, it is known as a plague.
Locust swarms are infamous for voraciously feeding on agricultural crops, trees, and other plants. In fact, this feeding can devastate crops and grasses grown for people and livestock, causing famine and starvation in communities that depend on their crops for survival.
From biblical times locusts have posed a grave threat to crops and livelihoods. The locusts are known to hunt in hordes and can eat food equal to their body weight. Each swarm has about 80 lakh locusts and it can finish the food that about 2,500 people will finish in a day.
Could a locust infestation occur in the U.S. ? Not likely these days, although locusts decimated American farmers in the past. “The chances of this happening today are much smaller,” Nicholls said. “There are modern means of controlling it – pesticides and so much technology.”
Can locusts hurt humans ? Locusts do not attack people or animals. There is no evidence that suggests that locusts carry diseases that could harm humans .
Now, of the ten plagues, the eighth one was that of locusts . Moses warned the Pharaoh that God will send so many locusts that they will “cover each and every tree of the land and eat all that is there to be eaten”. Every time the Pharaoh refused, a fresh plague was inflicted upon his kingdom.
Two species of bacteria, Serratia marcescens Bizio and Pseudomonas aeruginosa (Schroeter) Migula have been implicated in disease epizootics observed in field populations and laboratory-reared locusts and grasshoppers. These bacteria infect their host after being ingested and often spread rapidly in laboratory colonies.
Locusts aren’t picky eaters; as the 2017 BBC documentary Planet Earth made clear, the insects will “consume every edible thing that lies in their path.” In one day, the average swarm can destroy around 192 million kilograms of vegetation, according to National Geographic — the food supply for thousands of people.
Locust swarms devastate crops and cause major agricultural damage, which can lead to famine and starvation .
The FAO has recommended the use of a fungus called Metarhizium anisopliae, which kills locusts by growing inside their bodies. It is cheaper than other methods, more effective, longer-lasting in the deserts, easier to store and is recommended for use before the nymphs begin to fly.
” Locusts can be scared away by producing noise by beating of drums and utensils. Chemicals, especially Chlorpyriphos 20 EC diluted in water, can be sprinkled on crops. There is a possibility of great damage to the crops due to locusts .
These include: Preventive measures: Early-detection infrastructure — surveillance, monitoring and rapid target of nymphal bands of locusts — help in keeping a check on the spread of locusts . Post-outbreak control measures: Using biopesticides help allay earlier environmental concerns.
Locusts can be eaten by spiders , birds, lizards and desert foxes. The birds can eat so many that they become too heavy to fly off. In some parts of Africa people even eat locusts with honey!
The last large locust outbreak, which started in 2003 and lasted until 2005, resulted in an estimated $2.5 billion in crop damage. Studies found that the economic effect was largely felt by subsistence farmers.
Most famously, the vengeful god of The Old Testament sends a swarm of locusts to teach the Egyptians a lesson for refusing to free the Israelites. It is the eighth plague that visits Egypt —after a thunderous hailstorm has ravaged the country. “(The locusts) will cover the face of the ground so that it cannot be seen.