Desert locust is not a new name and co-existed in nature from time immemorial. During recession periods when locust occurs in low densities, it is found in arid and semi-arid land stretching from the Atlantic Ocean to North West India covering about 30 countries including Afghanistan and Pakistan as well. During the invasion period it covers 64 countries from North West and East African countries, Arabian Peninsula, the Southern Republic of USSR, Iran, Afghanistan and the Indian sub-continent.

Locusts are polyphagous pests that feeds on leaves, shoots, flowers, fruit, seeds, stems and bark of nearly all crops and noncrop plants including pearl millet, maize, sorghum, barley, rice, pasture grasses, sugarcane, cotton, fruit trees, date palms, vegetables and weeds.

Locusts are capable of forming swarms (adult congregation) and hopper bands (nymphal congregation). They are indeed sleeping giants that can flare up any time to inflict heavy damage to the crops leading to national emergency of food and fodder.

The locust population unless they are greatly influenced by highly favourable environmental conditions will ever cross limit of recession and enter into invasion period. Spells of drought followed by heavy rainfall and emergence of vegetation flushes favours this pest to multiply rapidly. However, farmers need to be aware of this pest problem currently dealt with in many parts of the country and around the globe which is why this article has been developed for our farmers.

The report of locusts swarms into the agricultural lands in India is reported due to the migration of locusts from summer breeding areas located in desert areas commonly shared by India and Pakistan.

Crop damages by locusts have been reported in India from as early as during 1926-31, 1959-62, 1978, 1993, 2003-05 and 2019 till date.

Among the 10 important species of the locusts available, 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 the most important species in India as well as in intercontinental context.

There are three breeding seasons for locusts. Winter breeding (Nov-Dec), Spring breeding (Jan-June) and Summer breeding (July-Oct). India has only summer breeding season.

Present Status of Locust in India During 2020

The regular Desert Locust Situation Bulletin (DLSB) issued by Government of India (GoI) at fortnightly intervals has issued the month wise status of locust in India during 2020.

January 2020FirstOrange Threat
SecondOrange Threat
February 2020FirstOrange Threat
SecondYellow Caution
March 2020FirstGreen Calm
SecondGreen Calm
April 2020FirstGreen Calm
SecondYellow Caution
May 2020FirstOrange Threat

*Green-Calm; Yellow-Caution; Orange-Threat; Red-Danger

Management Measures

1. In case of locust incursion, all management strategies are to be taken up by state and central agencies on community approach basis not by individual farmers/group of farmers.

2. Advise the field functionaries to be vigilant and pro-active keeping in constant communication with the farmers.

3. Create awareness by the extension functionaries through social media platforms.

4. Advise farmers to monitor their fields regularly and report to concern authority in case of any incidence of the pest.

5. Advise district Agri clinic to keep stock of the required inputs.

6. Following management measures to be advocated to the farmers in case of locust invasion.

    a. Field sanitation especially along the bunds and areas surrounding the fields.

    b. Setting up of evening bonfires in the field.

    c. Application of Azadirachtin or neem extracts @ 5ml/litre of water.

    d. Application of entomopathogenic fungi such as Metarhizium acridum, Metarhizium

       anisopliae @ 5ml/litre of water, Beauveria bassiana @ 5ml/litre of water and Bacillus

       thuriengensis as prophylactic spray.

    e. In case of very heavy infestations, management using chemicals are suggested.

Contributed By: ATMA Mokokchung in collaboration with District Agriculture Office and  KVK, Yisemyong.