The desert locust

The desert locust (Schistocerca gregaria) is a species of locust, a periodically swarming, short-horned grasshopper in the family Acrididae. They are found mainly in Africa, through Arabia and West Asia, and extending into parts of South Asia.


During plague years, desert locusts can cause widespread damage to crops, as they are highly mobile and feed on large quantities of any kind of green vegetation, including crops, pasture, and Fodder. A typical swarm can be made up of 150 million locusts per km2 and fly in the direction of the prevailing wind,[4] up to 150 km in one day.  Even a very small, 1-km2 locust swarm can eat the same amount of food in a day as about 35,000 people.
Locusts differ from other grasshoppers in their ability to change from a solitary living form into gregarious, highly mobile, adult swarms and hopper bands, as their numbers and densities increase. They exist in different states known as recessions (with low and intermediate numbers), rising to outbreaks, and extremely high densities or plagues. They have two to five generations per year. The desert locust risk increases with one-to-two-year continuum of favourable weather (greater frequency of rains) and habitats that support population increases leading to upsurges and plagues.
The desert locust is potentially the most dangerous of the locust pests because of the ability of swarms to fly rapidly across great distances. The major desert locust upsurge in 2004–05 caused significant crop losses in West Africa and diminished food security in the region.
In February 2020, the FAO announced that desert locusts are destroying tens of thousands of hectares of crops and grazing land in north east Africa in the worst invasion in 25 years. The UN warns that a dangerous situation is now facing the region and in particular eastern Ethiopia. Since this announcement, swarms have caused Somalia to declare a state of emergency and spread to other East African countries such as Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania,and most recently South Sudan.

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