Locust Control and Use

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A large, mainly tropical grasshopper with strong powers of flight. It is usually solitary, but from time to time there is a population explosion and it migrates in vast swarms which cause extensive damage to vegetation.

Locust Control and Use
Locust Control and Use

Effect of Locust invasion to the Food Security:

The invasion could pose a serious food security challenge in some areas as these insects consume their own weight in a day (one insect weighs 2 grams and a swarm can contain over 50 million insects).

Pastures are the worst hit as locusts tend to prefer hotter climates where livestock keeping is the main source of livelihood.

Most effective Locust Control Measures

The factors influencing the choice of insecticides for locust control are effectiveness, safety in use, relative cost, and the formulations available. The relative importance of these factors varies with the scale of control. In small scale control by farmers safety and simplicity are paramount and a BHC (Benzene Hexa-Chloride)  dust is commonly used, but in large scale control operations by specialized organizations more toxic formulations ultra-low-volume (ULV.) concentrates and methods of application requiring considerable skills can be used

The best way to deal with such an invasion is to conduct aerial spraying using Ultra Low Volume (ULV) chemical or biological pesticides at the early stages for effective control. It is important to identify the egg-laying sites early on so that the emerging hoppers are sprayed before they can fly.

For this purpose the continued monitoring and forecasting of the locust population in the traditional breeding sites should be ensured.

The safe use of pesticides remains the best choice for control of insects occurring in such big numbers. It is important to use environmentally safe products which cause minimum harm to non-targets. Spray teams should be well trained on how to handle the pesticides.

People living in the invaded areas should also be alerted on keeping themselves and their livestock safe by not getting into the sprayed areas as advised. One effective biological control is the use o the metarhizium, which the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) developed out of the locust skin fungus.

Though, some chemicals may cause more harm to the environment, especially when aerial spraying is applied on swarms in flight. The pesticides can contaminate the environment, water, crops and can cause skin rashes or respiratory, neurological or eye problems. They can also cause harm to animals and aquatic species.

Use of Locust as a Food

Many communities in the world eat locusts and other insects. It is, however, important to caution against eating sprayed locusts. Additionally, locust swarms can contain billions of locusts, so catching them for food may not have a significant effect in reducing their population.

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