Garden Locust

Acanthacris ruficornis

Garden Locust

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Portrait of a Garden locust
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Locusts are a species of short-horned grasshopper (named after the short, stumpy antennae). You may know them from the chirping sounds they make during the day. They do this by rubbing the spines on the hind legs against their serrated wings. They are solitary most of the time, however, if they are doing particularly well, food is abundant, and the environment becomes over-crowded, swarming behaviour is triggered. This is when it can get bad for farmers. A swarm of locust can deplete a field of crops in a matter of days, and they're challenging to deter once they've begun swarming.

Traits

During optimal conditions, these insects congregate, forming swarms, inflicting significant agricultural damage.
Provides food for birds and wildlife.

Appearance

Adult locusts are around 3 inches in size. They possess a light brown exoskeleton with dark brown spots on the wings. Nymphs are pale green and smaller in size. However, older nymphs can also be brown, and sometimes pink. They lack wings at this stage. Visible, pale yellow dots are visible on the pronotum. Eggs are laid in burrows in clusters of up to 100, in something that's called an egg-purse. They hatch in the spring.

Activity

Diurnal

Personality

Order

Orthoptera

Family

Acrididae

Metamorphosis

Incomplete

Distribution

Africa

Biological treatment

Digging up egg pods, stepping on locusts, and burning roosting sites are all standard practices used by farmers to prevent locusts from laying more eggs. An effective means of protection for your garden would be to get chickens or ducks. If you don't want to keep the latter, you could try encouraging other birds to the area by having bird baths and bird tables. It's thought planting certain crops around your desired plants can offer some protection. The idea is, the grasshoppers will dislike the smell of the protective crops. It's believed they dislike calendula and horehound. It's also believed they dislike shaded areas. It has been proposed that planting a strip of long indigenous grass can act as a 'buffer'; attracting grasshoppers and locust away from your desirable plants and crops. You can make homemade insect repellent using garlic and chilli concentrate mixed with water. Bear in mind that this can be toxic to beneficial insects such as ladybirds and bees, so take care not to spray flowers! Neem oil has also been proven to disrupt the development cycle of locusts.

Chemical treatment

There are currently no chemical treatments available to gardeners.

Attracts

Locusts can become gregarious after sudden a mass growth of crop plants.

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