Grasshoppers that migrate have been given the classification of locust. Grasshoppers and locusts are of the family Locustidae.
Australian Plague Locust Chortoicetes terminifera prefers to feed on grasses and/or cereal crops such as wheat. Locusts will swarm on horticulture crops, pasture, grapevines and trees when preferred crops are sparse. Since the color green attracts locust, they have been known to eat synthetic grass and other green colored outdoor textiles when where natural grasses grow. The locust likes young, tender, immature green plants of any kind.
Spur Throated Locust (STL) Austracris guttulosa, a pest of pastures, crops and certain tree species, especially citrus trees and home gardens found in Queensland, Northern Territory, northern Western Australia and sometimes northern NSW. Hoppers and adults feed on fresh green vegetation such as summer crops including sorghum, sunflower, soybean and cotton, and in autumn will feed on early winter crops such as wheat and canola. Extensive damage to wheat has occurred when attacked by fledging adults.
Listed as 'pests' these insects can devastate crops at a fast pace when these dense groups as 'hoppers' (bands) or adults (swarms) eat through large crop lands, especially at night. As winged creatures they cover large distances and migrate over agricultural areas.
Where do locusts lay their eggs?
Female locusts can lay up to 200 eggs in pods that contain about 30-40 eggs. Pods are laid at five to seven day intervals. Eggs are often laid up to 10 cm beneath the soil in bare ground, generally along roadsides, tracks, fence lines, dry land flats and sparse pastures and paddocks. Eggs laid in autumn are dormant over winter and hatch in spring due to the rising soil temperatures.
Laying of eggs if not observed during egg-laying may be buried and remain unnoticed in egg beds.
The holes drilled by egg layers must be found and dug up within 3-4 hours or they will fill in with soil making the beds undetectable from the surrounding earth.
Temperature has a major impact on locust development, feeding and movement. When the temperature drops (20°C), this can slow the development of nymphs, plus with slower movement, they can be more easily eaten by predators.
Metamorphosis process occurs when an egg hatches into an immature locust (nymph or hopper). Then "instar" molting stages range from 5-6 as the nymph expands and the body grows. Adult locusts may form large groups called swarms which may invade and defoliate infested plants.
Pest Control means regular monitoring and spraying chemicals while hoppers are in a concentrated band after hatching.
Crops and grasses used as fodder to feed livestock or milking animals must observe a waiting and observation period before cutting, harvest and storage.
Coober Pedy Regional Times (August 22, 2010) claims that “Banned US neurotoxic insecticides Diazinon, Chlorpyrifos and others are about to be unleashed over South Australia to protect crops from locusts with a possible assistance scheme for farmers who choose to use these chemicals.”
Organic farmers suffer economic loss when they cannot market their crops as “certified organic” due to pesticide drift from neighboring farms. Airborne pesticides also impact ecosystems, both adjacent to and quite distant from application sites”.
Repeated exposure to low doses may cause muscle twitching, anorexia, malaise, depression, irritability, confusion, anxiety, and dizziness. Damage to the pancreas has developed in some people and in laboratory animals exposed to large amounts of diazinon.
Chlorpyrifos and diazinon (containing the carbamate carbaryl) were recently banned by the U.S. EPA and are being phased out altogether because of the unacceptable risks posed to children from their use.
Diazinon is a mutagen. Long-term exposure may damage the developing fetus or cause birth defects, nerve damage and/or liver damage.
The state government plans to spray 600,000 hectares of National Park and Nature reserve with pesticides.
The “Exotic Pest” declaration by the Agriculture minister means that the government can enter private land and apply pesticides without the landowners consent. Landholders then must pay for this poisoning. Landholders have no right to refuse to allow spraying because Native Locusts are now considered a “bio-security risk”.
Fenitrothion requires large buffer zones as it is inherently prone to spray drift (National Registration Authority for Agricultural and Veterinarian Chemicals, 1999). Fipronil was not to be used near populated areas and only employed in northern pastoral areas of the State (PIRSA, 2000). Although buffer zones around waterways help minimise the risk to water supplies and aquatic organisms, there is still the risk of off-target applications, spray drift and runoff from rain.” It has high bird mortality.
“The most promising alternative to chemical pesticides is Green Guard®, a fungal pathogen (Metarhizium anisopliae) specific to locusts and grasshoppers. However, chemical spraying is regarded as the most effective method of controlling plague populations of C. terminifera, given the huge area under control, difficulty of land transport and access, and the need for urgent response to outbreaks."
Green Locust Control | CSIRO Honorary Research Fellow, Dr Richard Milner, is a finalist in the Sherman Eureka Prize for Environmental Research for his research that developed the fungus, Metarhizium, as a green control for Australian plague locusts.
Locust in potency
Capture locusts, dilute, success and spray.
Mix dish soap with jalapenos, habaneros or other hot pepper oil to repel the adults.
Blister beetle and ground beetle larvae attack the egg pods of grasshoppers.They are both capable of consuming between 50 to 60% of grasshopper egg pods.
Snakes, toads, cats and skunks feast on hoppers.
Bird predators include bluebirds, brown thrashers, crows, hawks, mockingbirds, meadowlarks and sparrows.
Horse-hair worm, a large nematode up to several inches in length parasitizes and kills hoppers.
Robber flies and spiders will feed on grasshoppers.
Field mice and many types of rodents will dig up and eat the egg pods. They also feed on the adults.
Chickens, ducks and Guinea hens are prolific consumers of hoppers. Muscovy ducks are tops
Preying mantis love to eat grasshoppers
Fish love to eat hoppers.
Plant the herb horehound (Marrubium vulgare) to repel grasshoppers.
Grasshoppers do not like cilantro used by many organic gardeners.
Plant calendula as a barrier deterrent.
Spray a heavy infusion of garlic oil as a repellent.
Grasshoppers are attracted to monocultures and do not like nitrogen-fixing crops like peas and sweet clover.
Row covers, like Reemay, or screens can be effectively used to keep them from your crops.
Garlic Oil Spray
Combine 3 ounces of minced garlic cloves with 1 ounce of mineral oil. Let soak for 24 hoursor longer. Strain.Mix 1 teaspoon of fish emulsion with 16 ounces of water. Add 1 tablespoon of castile soap to this.
Slowly combine the fish emulsion water with the garlic oil. Keep in a sealed glass container up to several months. To use: Mix 2 tablespoons of garlic oil with 1 pint of water and spray.
Nosema locustae is a one celled parasite that infects and kills the hoppers when they ingest it. A single treatment can last for several years. Hoppers eat the dead parasite infected bodies establishing a chain reaction as the parasite passes to each generation. Certain species of hoppers may expire within several hours after treatment, others may take 4-6 weeks to be affected.
Fill glass jars halfway up with a mixture of 10 parts water to 1 part of molasses. Place jars into the soil. The hoppers are drawn to the sweet smell of the molasses, enter the jar and drown. Clean traps as needed
Combine 4 ounces of black strap molasses with one quart of water. Spray directly on hoppers to clog their pores so they cannot breath.
Brew coffee 5 to 10 times stronger than normal. Cool and use as a spray.
Wear mask to protect from inhaling, while dusting crops with diatomaceous earth.
Gardeners can use organic botanical products like pyrethrin to knock down nymphs in the first or second instar.
Made from the seed of the Neem (azadirachta indica) tree, a shade tree native to India. The active compound azadractin is extracted using water, alcohol or petroleum ether. Neem has been used for centuries in India to protect stored grainsas an insect antifeedant and repellant. It can stop or disrupt insect growth (IGR = insect growth regulator) and sterilizes some species. Neem has been classified as an ovicide, mildewcide and miticide.
Mix 70% Neem Oil at the rate of 2 tablespoons (1 ounce) per gallon of water. Thoroughly mix solution and spray all plant surfaces (including undersides of leaves) until completely wet." Neem is only effective if the insect ingests the sprayed foliage. Some stories say the locusts do not like the odor and thus, do not eat the sprayed leaves.
Fall cultivating will help expose buried egg pods to the weather and helps to discourage laying.
A tea made from this weed and used as a spray may potentially repel hoppers.
Leaving areas of tall grass uncut can help by giving hoppers food and a refuge. You can then use the treatment of your choice to get at them in the contained area.
For agricultural crop acreage, practice windrowing by making a long row of cut or mowed hay or grain, and leave to dry in a field before baling, combining or rolling.
Africa infestation and swarms have been sprayed with pheromones.