From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Locusts Swarm
Mains level : Pests Management
Sharing borders with neighbouring Pakistan, Gujarat is under attack from hoppers — new-born locusts — that have flown in across the international border.
Gujarat has not witnessed such an invasion of locusts since 1993-94.
- Locusts are certain species of short-horned grasshoppers that have a swarming phase.
- Swarming refers to a collective behaviour in which locusts aggregate together just like flocks of birds.
- These insects are usually solitary, but under certain circumstances they become more abundant and change their behaviour and habits, becoming grouped.
- They form bands of wingless nymphs which later become swarms of winged adults.
- Both the bands and the swarms move around and rapidly strip fields and cause damage to crops.
- The adults are powerful fliers; they can travel great distances, consuming most of the green vegetation wherever the swarm settles.
Havoc created by locusts
- Locust swarms devastate crops and cause major agricultural damage and attendant human misery—famine and starvation.
- They occur in many parts of the world, but today locusts are most destructive in sustenance farming regions of Africa.
- The desert locust (Schistocerca gregaria) is notorious. Found in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, they inhabit some 60 countries and can cover one-fifth of Earth’s land surface.
- Desert locust plagues may threaten the economic livelihood of one-tenth of the world’s humans.
Control measures in India
- India has a Locust Control and Research scheme that is being implemented through the Locust Warning Organisation (LWO), established in 1939.
- It was amalgamated in 1946 with the Directorate of Plant Protection Quarantine and Storage (PPQS) of the Ministry of Agriculture.
- The LWO’s responsibility is monitoring and control of the locust situation in Scheduled Desert Areas mainly in Rajasthan and Gujarat, and partly in Punjab and Haryana.
- The LWO publishes a fortnightly bulletin on the locust situation.
- The latest bulletin on the PPQS website, for the second fortnight of June, said control operations had covered 5,551 hectares by June 30.
With inputs from: National Geographic