The desert locust is arguably the most dangerous of all other locust pests. Its swam also a threat to crops and plants on farmlands.
Known by its scientific name of Schistocerca gregaria, the desert locust is a species of locust in the Acrididae family.
They are found mainly in Africa but have also been found along the Arabian coast and part of West Asia, with some of them spreading into some parts of South Asia.
Desert locust are dreaded by farmers. The reason is that, when they invade farmland, they can cause widespread damage to the crops and every green plant on the farmland.
Their abilities to cover a very long distance within a short period of time is what make them more dangerous. For instance, destroying an acre of maise plant would take them less than a day. In fact, a report has it that a swarm of desert locust can be made up of 80 million locusts per square kilometre and can all fly in the direction of the prevailing wind. This ability makes their destruction rate on farmland more destructive.
Even the Food and Agriculture Organisation recognises the destructive nature of the desert locust. In its 2020 research and report on desert locust state that a swarm of desert locust of about 1km² can consume as much food as 35,000 people would eat in a day.
Being a transboundary pest, the desert locust is even more threatening to farmers and farm crops across the globe. They pose problems to food security and livelihood in many developing countries.
What makes their action an international phenomenon is their rapid reproductive rate and ability to cover a very long distance in a short time. Both the Food and Agriculture Organisation and the United Nations have recognised the desert locust as a dangerous farm pest and a threat to food security and livelihood across the world.
Desserts locust are polyphagous. They can consume the leaves, stems and roots of a plant thereby totalling destroying the plants. Each locust desert can consume an equivalent of its weight or around 2g or 0.07oz of green plants every day of its invasion. If you think about this and how much damage a swarm containing about eighty million desert locusts can do to a field of green crops during their invasion, then it would give you great worry about their destructiveness and the prospects of food security and safety around the globe.
If the desert locust is this dangerous and destructive, there should be a way to stop or at least control it. Let’s look at how it might be controlled.
Control of Desert Locust
Desert locust control has been the focus of many reputable international organisations and government organisations as far back as the 20th century. Between 1920 and 1930, for instance, the International Agricultural Institute undertook several important programmes targeted towards the exchange of data and ideas of how to best combat the invasion and subsequent destruction of farmlands by desert locust.
On its part, the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation, as a preventive measure, monitors the weather, ecological conditions, and locust situations every day through its Desert Locust Information Service (DLIS). It also collects other necessary data that will allow it to monitor the breeding, migration, and imminent invasions of the desert locust. The analysis of all these data in possession of DLIS allows them to warn of dessert locust invasion at least six weeks before the actually possible.
Conclusively, there is need for better response to the control of desert locust. This becomes evident when considered in light of their devastating capacity. As such, it is necessary for stakeholder to gear more efforts to keeping farmlands safe while ensuring food security.