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Locusts Swarm – How to Stop a Plague of Locusts

May 21, 2018

Why do locusts damage crops and gardens?

We may have had thoughts about how to stop a plague of locusts but have you thought as to why these locusts harm your crops? Here is why they do so:

Locusts may not be great and giant sized, but this is an unbelievable fact that they can consume food equivalent to their own body size per day. If this is the case, then it is not hard for you to calculate the amount of food that they can consume and the number of crops that they can destroy if you have a swarm of locusts invading your farms. They can really consume a good amount of food as it is not a single or handful of locust that you will find wandering in your farms but a huge number a whole lot that can harm your crops to a great extent. Feeding on the crops helps them to develop from young ones to full-sized locust, and again they can consume food by their size which will hardly leave crops uninfected by these pests. These tiny creatures if found in a swarm of about one tonne can eat up the same amount of food that ten elephants can eat in one day. You can imagine the loss that it may cause to the farmers who work day and night to feed the whole country. So it is essential to remove them and get rid of these pests in your farm if you want to save your crops from being hampered by these devils.

Locust Swarm

Locust Swarm

Locusts are creatures which camouflage themselves according to their surroundings, in order to avoid association, but when ecological conditions become appropriate, these Locusts are known to give up their solitary lifestyles and convene into wide, movable, famished swarms.

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In gregarious phase, these insects, in their nymph form, are fascinated by each other, due to which they come together and form bands and move about the landscape, integrating with other groups. The initial bands of these insects are known as Outbreaks and when these small groups join the larger groups then this occurrence is known as Upsurge. These Upsurges from different locations come together to form Plagues. During Outbreaks only a part of locust population becomes gregarious, there are still many locusts scattered about the landscape. After sometime more locusts become gregarious and they are more concentrated about a smaller area.

The swarms find the way with the help of the sun, they are known to take food breaks during their journey, and then continue their march. They are fast fliers and cover the distance of tens of kilometers in a week. They look like black clouds racing in the sky and generate a solar eclipse like impression.

Their break periods last for very long periods during which they feed over crops, trees, and blades of grass. They consume plants equivalent to their weight every day and every swarm contains millions of such locusts which results in the massive destruction of crops. This devastation of crops at the hands of these gregarious creatures can be the cause of plague in many poor countries.

Why do Locusts form swarms?

Locusts are chief international pests and every year they influence the livelihood of one-tenth of world’s inhabitants. They seriously impact food security, an area which is already susceptible to danger due to the ever-increasing human population.

Russian entomologist, Sir Boris Uvarov was the first scientist to research in this field in 1921. He was the first person to determine physiological and behavioral alterations of Locusts; his study was primarily focused on Desert and migratory locusts.

Before his study, it was believed that swarming locusts are different species from solitary locusts.

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He observed that solitary locusts are vibrant green colored insects which repel each other, have low metabolic and low oxygen-intake rates and are usually sluggish. On the other hand, insects in gregarious phase grow larger and brighter in color. They are no more vibrant green in color; rather they are yellow in color with prominent black markings. Their metabolic and oxygen intake rates are higher than their solitary alter-ego and they are anything but sluggish after transformation.

During the period in which rainfall is followed by drought, these insects are forced to feed together on the remaining shrubbery. And the combination of sight, smell and touch set off physical changes which cause transformation in their body. When they come in contact with each other, their sensory pathways are stimulated by tangible stimulation of mechanosensory receptors which are located in their hind legs. The consequence of this stimulation comes in the form of discharge of neurotransmitter serotonin. This neurotransmitter is responsible for the initial gathering of these nymphs. At this stage, increased levels of serotonin are recorded. But these levels remain elevated only for a period of 24 hours after 24 hours serotonin levels start decreasing. Variety of biochemical and molecular pathways controls and maintains swarming in these individuals. From an ecological point of view, locusts generally live in areas with less vegetation, so in case of low availability of food, these seemingly herbivorous insects can also convert into cannibals. According to scientists, it is this cannibal behavior of these insects which might have encouraged their collective movement.

This research was conducted on Desert locusts, so the behavioral patterns of other species of Locusts are still unknown.

This study also showed that Solitarious and gregarious locusts are just different forms of locusts and not two different species.

According to Dr. Steve Rogers of Cambridge University, their gregarious forms are actually an evolutional strategy. They are still in their nymph form, flightless, only capable of hopping. In order to survive, they need to get away from this drought-affected area. While in their gregarious forms, they grow and become adults, who develop their wings and now can fly.

The natural state of a locust is solitude whereas the gregarious phase of a locust is the result of environmental changes. Swarming of locusts occurs in the region which is scant in its resources, plant resources to be specific. They do not form in the region which is suitable for the growth of these insects. A major reason why a once suitable region is no more the suitable type is the change in season. Locusts travel from places to unfavorable conditions to places of favorable conditions.

How to protect farms and gardens from locust infestation?

If you are having a tough time wondering on how to get rid of locusts and how to stop a plague of locusts in your garden area, then here are few sure shot ways that you can use at your home to get rid of these little demons.

Predators

We might all have learned about the lifecycle chain in the early classes. We have to work out the magic by following the same hack at our house. In the same way, as we bring a cat to kill a rat, we can bring predators in our garden area to kill such brats. May it be hens or ducks or any other predators that can eat up these locusts will be a good idea that you can use at your home. If not ducks and chickens, then you can also go in for birds like magpies, etc. who can help you to sort out your worries of how to stop a plague of locusts in your garden yard.

Smoke

The smoke therapy is also used to drive off the locusts in your garden. How to Stop a Plague of Locusts may be a topic of great worry and threat to your trees and plants in your garden. You can burn branches to make smoke which can be a helpful hack to get success in freeing your farms and gardens from locusts. When you see a swarm of locusts entering your field then it is hard to handle and break the multitude. In this case, smoke and noise can be a helpful method to break their flock population. We all know there is always more power in unity and it is essential to cut the swarm, or you can land into severe problems as they can infest your crops highly.

Handpicking the locusts

If your farm or garden is not infested with a swarm of locusts and they have just started invading your garden with a handful number, then handpicking the locusts can also be a natural idea to deal with these pests. This idea cannot work when you have a large group. You just need to pick them and kill them, if you are seriously afraid of doing so then you can use the bribe game as well. The next door boy can be your help for your locust picking task. You can pay him chocolate or few bucks to get your garden free from locusts and gett8mnbgthem trapped in a jar or squishing them. We are sure you would not back off from paying chocolates or few bucks to a neighbor who can be of great help to clear your garden from locusts.

Pesticides

Pesticides are one of the common options that people use in their gardens to keep their gardens and farms free from locusts. You can consult a pest control company and get the apt pesticides to solve the issue of How to Stop a Plague of Locusts in your garden.

Insect growth regulators

You can also buy insect growth regulators which can help to control the swarm of locusts in your farms. They act as barriers and are a nontoxic method to bring an end to the population of locusts. These insect growth regulators have to be applied in a direction opposite to the swarms and as soon as the locust consume enough of these products they naturally die thus saving your farm from being plagued by these tiny creatures.

Garlic oil

Garlic oil is also one of the natural remedies that you can use in your garden to free it from these pests. You just have to spray some garlic oil near your plants so that it acts as a locust repellent and keeps the locusts away from hampering your plants. You can also go in for using neem oil instead of garlic oil as this also serves the same purpose as of garlic oil.

Calendula plant

Planting few plants which will act as a barrier and protect their fellow plants can also be a natural hack to prevent locusts from destroying your plants. You can plant calendula or horehound plants which will act as the great wall of China for the other plants in your garden and stop the locusts from entering your garden area.

Application of lawn granules

If you are worried about how to kill locust, then lawn granules can be the right option for you. You can apply these lawn granules at the start of the spring season which has the capability of the killing of the young ones of locusts as soon as they come out from their eggs. This is a sure shot method to cut off the growth of locusts in your garden and farm area. Locusts have a tendency of getting hyperactive as soon as the spring season hits our country. Therefore, it is advisable that we stay alert and well prepared to deal with the issue of a locust plague.

Garden safe sprays

You can consult a pest control company and buy massive sprays that will help to kill the locusts in your farm area without causing any health hazards and any the problems to the plants. Using garden safe sprays can be a feasible method to opt for driving out these beasts from your farm who can plague your entire crops and cause you great losses.

Organic Sprays

Organic sprays are another feasible method that you can use for handling locust plague in your farms. The organic sprays have a capability of being effective in a span of thirty minutes so you can start using it before the harvest time so that you bring an end to the locust population in your farm.

Onions and chilies

You can also make home sprays made out of onions and chilies to use it on your crops which will repel the locusts and save your crops from being eaten up by these insects. You can even take a mixture of onion, garlic, capsicum, and water and make a spray out of it and spray it on the crops o save it from being ruined. These ingredients used in the spray have a strong odor which is helpful to keep the pests away from your crops.

Handing over to the professionals

If you need further help to drive away the swarm of locusts from your garden, then you can contact the professionals to help you out in your task. They have well experienced and experts who have all the means and methods of freeing your farm from locusts. You can seek their help and relax till they get your farm free from these monsters who have unexpectedly invaded your farms.

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