Locusts are short-horned grasshoppers, an epidemic insect for the field crops as corona virus for human beings worldwide.
This insect attacks on crops in the form of group therefore within a few seconds it demolishes the crop severely. It belongs to family: Acrididae, order: Orthoptera and by mode of action a chewing types insect which can also fly over a long distance in a day. They have also characterized as they can wait for specific conditions. After the heavy rains they come out and attack as swarm.Locally in Pakistan it is known as Tiddi Dal.
Locust is an ancient insect as some evidence shows that paintings of this insect are found in the Egyptian civilization. Moreover, these types of insects are also discussed in the Holy Quran and Bible.
Locust attacks in world
History is full of the destruction of crops caused by locust hearts. In Algeria there were in 1724 and a sever attack from 1864 to 1875 was observed. In 1779, France suffered a famine due to locusts and farmers sold their children due to hunger. In 1813 Morocco were severely damaged. In 1875 people also had a attack in the eastern slopes, spreading over 196000 square miles. Likewise these it also hits the Pakistan agriculture in different patches.
Locust attacks in Pakistan
Locust attacks in Pakistan were seen in 1949, 1950, 1961, 1963, 1990, 1997 and 2019. This statistics shows that Pakistan suffers a lot due to this insect and there is dire need to make a strong strategy to control.
In 2019, due to abnormal weather conditions western winds in South Asia exceeded from normal which leads heavy rainfall. This heavy rainfall creates favorable environment for the breeding of insect. Furthermore, it also increases the amount of already existing insect in Oman, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates. In Pakistan it enters from Sindh province, Baluchistan and Punjab via Iran. After 1961 for the first time locust attack was reported in urban areas of Karachi in November 2019.However, in Punjab it enters from India near Bahalawalngar.
The locust life consists of three conditions: egg, nymph and adult. Eggs generally prefer soft and light soils. Which hits and drills holes underground and then unloads the pods with eggs in that hole. One female can give eggs from 500 to 850 in their life. The eggs will hatch in two to three weeks as the eggs are 8mm in size. However, this insect grows up to the length of 1.25 – 7.5 cm. They complete their life cycle in five stages. After each condition they eat green crops and grass very quickly and mature after the fifth condition. At maturity their feathers also comes out. At this time the male size is approximately 45 mm and the female is 60 mm.
These five conditions are completed in one and a half to two months. The worm can survives for up to two and a half months. Individually this insect damage a little bit however it damage severely when it attacks in cluster even it ruined the whole field of an area. Beyond just feeding on plants they cut the plants stem which is more vulnerable. Where green crops are not available they feed their own offspring’s and also disturbed the other things like sheep, goat by grabbing their hairs. The interesting thing about locust it damage the crop mostly on day time.
The Agriculture Department is doing everything possible to eradicate this hostile insect with the collaboration of Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). On January 29, 2020, the KPK provincial government announced the Locust Emergency in 9 districts across the province.1st February, 2020 Government of Pakistan implements Emergency National to protect crops nationwide from this pest. Instantly, field staff starts the aerial spray and other possible controlling operations.
This insect attack’s in clusters, so chemical control is very difficult at large scale. However, some protection measures will be helpful to prevent the crop from this insect which is mention below.
- The locust dislikes the noise. So, to protect your crops you must already arrange for drums and firecrackers to be protected. As locust enters the field flocked the drum.
- When nymphs are released from the eggs, they are unable to fly. Then they can be destroyed by spraying them, digging in their path or putting water on them.
- In the evening Locusts crowed sit. So, by using net they can be collected and used as poultry feed.
- Small insects like crows, sparrow and frog are the natural predator of the locusts.
-They can be controlled by spraying 5% solution of delta methrine.