Desert Locust

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Desert Locust
The Desert Locust (Schistocerca gregaria Forskål) is a species of short–horned grasshopper that belongs to the family Acrididae, order Orthoptera. Locusts differ from grasshoppers in their ability to change from a solitary living form into gregarious, highly mobile, adult swarms and hopper bands as their numbers and densities increase. Periods of low and intermediate numbers and densities (recessions, outbreaks and upsurges) alternate with very high numbers and densities (plagues). The Desert Locust poses little or no threat to crops and grazing in Africa, the Near East and southwest Asia when its numbers and densities are low but the risk increases during the one to two year continuum of favourable weather and habitats that support population increases during upsurges and plagues. When that happens, the Desert Locust becomes one of the most internationally known and important insect pests.

In the past, Desert Locust plagues have affected 20% (28 million kilometres2 ) of the earth’s surface but they originate within a much smaller area (16 million km2 ), known as the recession area. It extends from Mauritania across the Sahara to the Red Sea Basin, the Horn of Africa and on through the Arabian Peninsula into northwest India and southwest Pakistan. DLCO-EA’s Member Countries are, therefore, centrally located within the recession area.

The Organization and its Member Countries have played a major role in understanding how plagues develop and in devising and implementing a strategy of plague prevention based on the pest’s biology and seasonal distribution.