Insects have reined the world earlier than mankind. They are omnipresent right from below the earth to hill top. Insects are very much associated with man’s life. Some are useful and some are highly harmful to mankind, one of which is Desert locust, the most harmful insect in the world. They are scourge of mankind since time immemorial.
Locusts are the short-horned grasshoppers with highly migratory habit, marked polymorphism and voracious feeding behavior. They are capable of forming swarms (adult’s congregation) and hopper bands (nymphal congregation). They cause great devastation to natural and cultivated vegetation. They are indeed the sleeping giants that can flare up any time to inflict heavy damage to the crops leading to national emergency of food and fodder.
There are 10 important species of locusts in the world listed below.
|S. No.||English Name||Scientific Name|
|1.||The Desert Locust||Schistocerca gregaria|
|2.||The Bombay Locust||Nomadacris succincta|
|3.||The Migratory Locust||Locusts migratoria manilensis; Locusta migratoria migratoria-oides|
|4.||The Italian Locust||Calliptamus italicus|
|5.||The Moroccan Locust||Dociostaurus morocannus|
|6.||The Red Locust||Nomadacris septemfaciata|
|7.||The Brown Locust||Locustana pardalina|
|8.||The South American Locust||Schistocerca paranensis|
|9.||The Australian Locust||Chortoicetes termenifera|
|10.||The Tree Locust||Anacridium Spp.|
Only four species viz. Desert locust (Schistocerca gregaria), Migratory locust (Locusta migratoria), Bombay Locust ( Nomadacris succincta) and Tree locust (Anacridium sp.) are found in India. The desert locust is most important pest species in India as well as in intercontinental context.
Major Incursion of locust swarm were noticed during1926-31,1940-46,1949-55 and the last locust cycle in India was during 1959-62. Although no locust plague cycles have been observed after 1962. However, during 1978 and 1993, large scale locust upsurges were reported. In addition to the above, 276 Nos. of desert locust swarms during the year 2019 & 103 Nos. during 2020 (up to August, 2020) were noticed after a lap of more than 26 years after 1993. Major damage to agriculture crops in Rajasthan and Gujarat state was reported during 2019 for which government has granted compensation to the affected farmers. During the year 2020 there were no crop loss reported till August, 2020 due to the cumulative efforts of Locust Warning Organization, Regional and International Organizations established to prevent plague under the overall coordination of the Food and Agriculture Organization.
Aiming to real time reporting of desert locust infestation android Mobile based application “eLocust3m” was implemented during 2020, which results an effective desert locust control. Towards strengthening of ground control fleet for locust control new vehicle operated ULV sprayers with advanced features have been procured during 2020. Moreover, for the 1st time in India drone technology were employed for locust control in inaccessible areas, tree tops, high sand dunes etc. two helicopters were also used for large scale spraying of insecticides on locust swarms/breeding sites in Rajasthan state during 2020.