Locust- a warning bell to Nepal

Anup Sharma
Agriculture and Forestry University, Rampur, Chitwan, Nepal

Locust (family Acrididae) is any group of insects, which are extremely mobile pests having the ability to migrate swarms to appear without warning in previously uninfested areas and rapidly damage pastures and crops. Damage caused by these can be devastating, devouring crops and leaving serious agricultural damage in their wake.

Locust, a polyphagous insect most notably looks like grasshoppers having big hind legs that help them to hop or jump. These both (Locust and grasshopper) represent the most conspicuous insects pests of all abundant in deserts or grasslands, whose population when builds up to a certain level, exhibits a gregarious and migratory behavior leading to a formation of spectacular swarms. Locust feeds almost every single crop including potato, wheat, sharsham, etc except Neem, Dhatura, Jamun, and Sheesham.

There appears mainly 3 species of Locust :

  1. Bombay locust: Prevalent to India, South-east Asia including Gujarat and Tamil Nadu.
  2. Migratory locust: Prevalent to Rajasthan and Gujarat of India, Asia, Africa, and eastern Europe.
  3. Desert locust: These are the most dangerous and devastating pests prevalent in deserts from West and North Africa to western India. Female of these lay eggs mainly after 8-24 hours of mating and lays around 500 eggs in a lifespan.
    Locust- a warning bell to Nepal: Desert Locust
    Pic.: Desert Locust, Source: Wikipedia

    Damage symptoms of Locust attack
    1. Locust feeds almost every part of a plant and mainly on leaves. Each locust eats equal to its body weight at a time causing major agricultural damage and attendant human misery- famine and starvation. 
    2. Plant stand tends to fall over the ground as the higher number of pests harbor at a time.
    After damaging crops in several different states of India including Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh by these crop-munching pests, swarms of locusts have now entered Uttar Pradesh letting a warning bell to Nepal. Swarming adult locusts can fly 150 km a day and they may travel several 100
    0 km before they settle to breed. As the country is already facing an enormous crisis posed by a corona attack, before the timing couldn't be worse, national authorities should manage adequate capacity to conduct preventive control measures, controlling outbreaks at an early stage.

    Control Measures
    Organic Method :
    • Spraying Green Beuveria/ Beuveria Bassiana (5ml in 1 liter of water) and on the repetition of 10-15 days interval. The doses can be further increased and interval can be minimized in case of urgency.

    Inorganic Method :
    • A dusting of 5-10 % carbaryl (20-25 kg/ha).
    • Chloropyriphos 20EC, Lambla-Cyhalothirn 5EC 40ml in 600-700 L of water.

    Physical Method :
    • Placing a tank containing water mixed with the powder form of Neem leaves with lighting placed over the tank (attracts locusts to the light), ultimately they fall off under the tank and dies.
    • Burning of tires and create smoke.
    • Producing loud sounds through machinery like tractor.
    • Deep plowing in summer that destroys the eggs of Locust.