Overview

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.

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.


ECONOMIC IMPORTANCE

In our country, in spite of taking control measures, damage to crops caused by locusts during 1926-31 cycles, on a conservative estimate, was about Rupees 10 crore. During 1940-46 and 1949-55 locusts cycles the damage was estimated at Rs. 2.00 crore each and it was only Rs. 50.00 lakh during the last locust cycle (1959-62). Although no locust plague cycles have been observed after 1962, however, during 1978 and 1993, large scale upsurges were reported. Damage estimated was Rs. 2.00 lakh in 1978 and Rs. 7.18 lakh in 1993.

Thereafter, insignificant damage by locust upsurges were reported largely due to the efforts of National, Regional and International Organizations established to prevent plague under the overall coordination of the Food and Agriculture Organisation.