A plague of locusts is spreading across the region, threatening the food supply of tens of millions. The insect behind these mayhem are desert locusts. Experts say a prolonged bout of exceptionally wet weather, including several rare cyclones that struck eastern Africa and the Arabian Peninsula over the last 18 months, are the main reasons.
Swarms of locust in the walled city of Jaipur, Rajasthan on May 25, 2020. More than half of Rajasthan’s 33 districts are affected by invasion by these crop-munching insects.
India’s farms are facing a significant threat from a swarm of millions of locusts that have migrated from Africa and have now been spotted in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.
What is Locust ?
Locusts are insects which belong to the same family as crickets and Grasshoppers. They grow in isolation but lack of rain can push individual locusts to grow. In high densities, they undergo a phase change their habits, behavior, appearance and causes swarms to build up, which destroy agriculture crops across the world.
Phases of Locust:- These insects have two phases.
- Solitary phase
Solitaire = solitary phase
A solitary-phase Nymph, for example, adjusts its coloration to match that of its surroundings, does not collect in groups, has low metabolic and oxygen-intake rates, and is sluggish.
- Gregarious Phase.
A gregarious-phase nymph, on the other hand, has black and yellow or orange coloration in a fixed pattern, gathers in large groups, has high metabolic and oxygen intake rates, and is active and nervous. Adult locusts differ more in form than in colour.
It can transformed in any point of time from solitary to gregarious phase in favorable environmental conditions like heavy rain, Moist soil, and Vegetation.
These locusts form swarms in Gregarious phase only. They have changed their eating habit in this phase and can eat every type of flora in their path.
How large are these swarms?
The dimension of Swarms found in Kenya recently is 60 km in length and 40 km in width i.e 2400 sq km in total area. In 1 sq km more than 15 million locusts were found. One swarms could eat equal to the food sufficient for 2500 people.
History of locust swarms:-
In the past 27 years this swarms attack is the worst in India.
Locust attacks have happened throughout the history of human being.
The drawing of locust in Egyptian civilization which is 2400 BC has proved that these attacks were happen on that time also.
This type of locust plagues have been described also in holy book like Quraan and Bible.
Major cause of recent locust attacks:-
Heavy rainfall in last December in South Africa brings flood in the countries like Kenya, Uganda, Uthopia, Somalia etc.
This situation is fully favorable for the locust to reproduce and changed their phase from Solitary to gregarious.
In Feb 2020 A major plague of Locust came as a result. And from there it forward towards eastern countries like Iran Pakistan and now in India.
- Insecticide or pesticides– Spreading of pesticides or insecticides is the solution but it has a harmful effects in the food and health of the people too.
- Loud Noise- The loud noise of DJ and loudspeaker useful to distract these locust but this will not work for the large swarms.
- Used as a chicken feed:-In the Okara district of Pakistan there is an innovative idea comes out to overcome this problem. They trapped and collect these locust in the night as locust is not capable to fly at night and caught. These trapped locust are used to feed chicken as these locust are high source of proteins. This idea is implemented by Md Khurshid a Civil Servant of Pakistan and Johar Ali a Pakistani biotechnologist of Pakistan agriculture and research council.
- Human Consumptions:- These locust are used as a protein source for the human being. Locust is a popular dish in Israel as in Jews this is “Kosher” eatable as religious point of view. In Islam Locust meat is also“ Halal”.