Desert Locust

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Desert Locust

 

(Schistocerca gregaria), a gregarious insect of the superfamily Acridoidea; a harmful polyphagous pest. The body is 46-61 mm long; the elytra have dark spots, and the wings are light with no dark central ligature. Sexually mature individuals are lemon yellow, and those that have just acquired wings are lilac-pink. In the gregarious stage the nymphs are yellow with black spots, and in the solitary stage they are yellowish or greenish. The cylindrical egg pods are 7 to 10 cm long and contain from 30 to 130 yellowish brown eggs.

The desert locust is found in North Africa and in Southwest and South Asia, including India. There are two or three generations of locusts per year. The first generation develops in the southern parts of the above regions in autumn and winter, and soon after acquiring wings migrates to the northern part of its range. At this time (between late April and June), during years of mass reproduction, desert locusts may make incursions into the USSR (southern Middle Asia and Transcaucasia) from Afghanistan or Iran. In the northern parts of its range the desert locust reaches sexual maturity and lays its egg pods in the soil; from these pods hatch the larvae of the second, or spring-summer, generation. The second generation develops in the south, where the desert locust begins a new autumn-winter generation.

The food of the desert locust consists of about 400 species of cultivated and wild plants, including woody plants. An infestation of desert locusts on plantings, meadows, and forests may reach catastrophic proportions. It has been established that the mass reproduction of desert locusts is periodic, occurring about every ten to 12 years. The phenomenon is associated with increasing or decreasing precipitation in the permanent habitat.

Methods of control include poisoned bait and treating the plants with attractants containing insecticides.

REFERENCES

Shcherbinovskii, N. S. Pustynnaia sarancha-shistotserka. Moscow, 1952.
Tsyplenkov, E. P. Vrednye saranchovye nasekomye v SSSR. Moscow, 1970.

E. P. TSYPLENKOV