The desert locust is one of about a dozen species of grasshoppers known as locusts which - unlike other grasshoppers - are able to change their behaviour in response to population density. This enables them to form swarms that can migrate over large distances. Locust swarms vary from less than one square kilometre to several hundred square kilometres. There can be from 40 million to as many as 80 million locust adults in each square kilometre of a swarm.
Scientific name: Schistocerca gregaria
A plague of biblical proportions occurs as billions of voracious insects fill the air.
'An average sub-Saharan swarm of desert locusts may number 50 billion and they will consume four times as much food as the humans living in New York or London in a single day. Insect spectacles don't come much bigger than this and I'd love to see it first hand.' (George McGavin on his list of top wildlife spectacles still to see)
Species range provided by WWF's Wildfinder.
The following habitats are found across the Desert locust distribution range. Find out more about these environments, what it takes to live there and what else inhabits them.
Discover what these behaviours are and how different plants and animals use them.
Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web
The desert locust (Schistocerca gregaria) is a species of locust. Plagues of desert locusts have threatened agricultural production in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia for centuries. The livelihood of at least one-tenth of the world’s human population can be affected by this voracious insect. The desert locust is potentially the most dangerous of the locust pests because of the ability of swarms to fly rapidly across great distances. It has two to five generations per year. The last major desert locust upsurge in 2004–05 caused significant crop losses in West Africa and had a negative impact on food security in the region. While the desert locust alone is not responsible for famines, it can be an important contributing factor.
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