Desert Locust Plagues Managed with Insecticides

49-2

Spraying for locusts

49

Locust swarm

Since prehistoric times, plagues of desert locusts (a large grasshopper that swarms) have threatened food production in Africa, the Middle East and Asia. The swarms may cover several hundred square kilometers and contain 50 million locusts per square kilometer. A square kilometer of locusts can consume about 100 tons of crops per day. Regular monitoring of locust breeding areas and targeted insecticide sprays as populations increase prevent plagues most years. However, monitoring locust breeding areas can be difficult as many are located in remote areas or are in areas inaccessible due to border disputes and lack of security. When major outbreaks occur, widespread insecticide spraying is necessary.

“When locust upsurges and plagues develop, large scale control campaigns must be mounted on an emergency basis. These campaigns are expensive, use large quantities of insecticide and involve external assistance. During the last plague of 1986-89, some 40 countries were affected and more than 14 million hectares were treated. The total amount of assistance provide by the international community during the plague was about US$ 250 million. The total amount of assistance provided by the international community  during the last major upsurge from 2003-2005 was about 400 million US Dollars where about 13 million litres of pesticides were used to treat 13 million hectare in 11 countries.

Ground and aerial application of chemical pesticides is the only viable method of locust control at present.”

Authors: FAO
Title: Workshop on Spray Equipment Used in Desert Locust Control, 10-14, May. 2009.

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