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Published by draculavanhelsing
Identification of Australian Locusts
Identification of Australian Locusts

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Categories:Types, Research, Science
Published by: draculavanhelsing on Nov 27, 2010
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Identication o locusts
The major dierence between locusts and grasshoppersis that locusts have the ability to swarm. Grasshoppers donot. There are some 500 grasshopper species in Australia,some o which can develop large localised inestationswithout the risk o swarming.It is thereore important that land managers can identiythe our locust species and one grasshopper consideredeconomically important pests in Queensland.
Lie cycle
All locusts and grasshoppers have the same three-stagelie cycle (egg ==> hopper (nymph) ==> adult) and requiregreen vegetation (hence rainall) or successul breeding.Batches o eggs (‘egg pods’) are laid in the soil in holesup to 100 mm deep; holes are then lled with a rothplug. Some species lay in close proximity to each other,and these aggregations are known as ‘egg beds’. Eggsneed warmth and moisture to incubate in the soil. Under ideal conditions eggs hatch in 2−3 weeks, but may remainviable in the soil or up to 12 months.The hatched locusts (nymphs or hoppers) are small,sexually immature, and ightless. They progress through anumber o growth stages or ‘instars’ beore ‘edging’ intothe adult orm.The number o instars varies between species (rom 5–9),as does the time taken to reach maturity. Some speciesorm dense aggregations o hoppers, known as ‘bands’,which can march across country in densities up to 5000locusts/m
.Adults o all locust species are winged. New adults(edglings) are sexually immature, and may remain in thisstate or as little as 14 days or or many months. Adultscan orm swarms covering several square kilometreswhich, under suitable climatic conditions, can migratelong distances to invade previously uninested areas.For the Australian plague locust, migrations in excess o 500 km in a night are not unusual, and are associated withweather ronts (see Figure 1).PA22 July 2010
Day ight diers rom migration, with locusts relocatingover short-distances. As a rule, swarms ying duringthe day are displaced downwind and will build up alongtreelines and creeks.Migration is a survival strategy. Locust outbreak areasgenerally have unreliable rainall. When locusts breed onrain, subsequent rain in the same area (needed or survivalo the next generation) is not guaranteed. So locusts move(migrate) on weather ronts that are associated with rainallevents. This strategy ensures at least some insects will ndgreen vegetation and successully reproduce. However,when rain is widespread, the majority o locusts breedsuccessully, and population increase is very rapid. I thisoccurs or three or our generations, a plague can develop.
Economic impact/damage
A high density swarm (>50 insects per m
 ) o Australianplague locusts covering 2 km
will contain around a billioninsects, which can eat 20 t o vegetation a day. Locustsat both the hopper and adult stage can cause extensivecrop and pasture damage. In Queensland, all crops canpotentially be attacked, but summer crops are most at risk.The ability o locusts to invade previously uninested areasand lay eggs within days, combined with the mobility o ying swarms, makes swarm control particularly difcultor individual landholders.Locust control is usually best carried out at thehopper stage.
Economically important species
The our locust species o economic importance inQueensland are the Australian plague locust, the spur-throated locust, the migratory locust, and the yellow-winged locust. The wingless grasshopper is occasionallya pest along the southern border o the state. The giantgrasshopper ( 
Valanga irregularis
 ) is oten encountered asa pest o urban and arm gardens but is not o economicimportance.
 Australian plague locust
Chortoicetes terminifera
This is the most economically important Australianlocust because o the extent and requency o outbreaks.Successul breeding occurs ater good rains in the ChannelCountry o western Queensland. Locusts then migrate onprevailing weather systems, invading adjacent agriculturalareas (including southern Queensland). 
Figure 1. Hot northerly winds ahead o a depression (otenassociated with a cold ront) may induce mass takeo at duskand long-distance migration downwind during the evening. Coldconditions in the wake o the depression stop urther migrationand prevent any movement. Night fights can result in thesudden relocation o a plague
Up to our generations occur each year, with eggs able tosurvive extended dry periods via quiescence (arrestedgrowth), and then continue to develop ollowing rain.The population overwinters as eggs in the ground via acompulsory resting stage (diapause) that ensures eggslaid in autumn do not hatch till spring. Nymphs developthrough ve instars, and can orm dense bands o up to5000 locusts/m
. Bands 1 km long and dense enoughto be seen rom aircrat ying at 800 m are not unusual.Swarms o ying adults can occur rom spring to autumn.At normal summer temperatures (28–33 °C), the minimumlie cycle is: egg (11 days) ==> hopper (35 days) ==> layingadult (12 days).
Australian plague locust adults grow 25–44 mm long.General body colour is grey, brown or occasionally green—oten with a pale stripe down the middle o the back.The hind wing has a conspicuous black spot at the tip,and the hind legs have red shanks.Adults make short ights just above the grass, otenlanding side on to the observer. This ight is also typical o several grasshopper species, including the eastern plaguelocust. This insect looks very similar to
C. terminifera
, butits hind wings are pale yellow with a dark band and it lacksthe red shanks on the hind legs.
2 Identication o locusts
Spur-throated locust
 Austracris guttulosa
This locust has a one-year lie cycle, and no abilityto survive extended dry spells. Normally this limitspopulations outside o monsoonal climates, so thatplagues are inrequent compared to the Australian plaguelocust. However, migrations can occur into cropping areas,particularly the Central Highlands, where outbreaks candevelop i summer rain alls.This large locust can orm dense swarms that eed onall summer crops. Hoppers also cause signicant cropdamage, particularly in seedling sorghum. Eggs arenot laid in egg beds, but scattered throughout an area.Hatchings do not orm bands, making control o largedispersed hopper populations difcult.At normal summer temperatures (28–33 °C), the minimumlie cycle is: egg (18 days) ==> hopper (65 days) ==> layingadult (220 days).Nymphs hatch rom November to February. Adultsoverwinter as roosting swarms, remaining immature untilspring. Adults lay ollowing rains in October/November.
Both the nymphs and adults o this locust have aconspicuous spur between the ront legs. Hoppers aregreen on hatching, and soon develop a black stripe downthe middle o their back. Their colour may change to lightbrown as they mature.Adults are 50–80 mm long with slim pale brown bodiesand longitudinal white stripes. They have a strong dartingight that ends with the locust plunging into the grass.Hind wings are colourless or with a slight blue tinge. Thehind legs bear two rows o dark-tipped white spines.
Migratory locust
Locusta migratoria
This insect is normally conned to the Central Highlandso Queensland, though low numbers are common as ar south as northern New South Wales.Nymphs and adults can be ound all year, but damagingpopulations are restricted to the warmer months.Migratory locusts can have our generations per year, buteggs lack the ability to survive extended dry periods. Athigh population densities hopper bands and adult swarmscan orm.At normal summer temperatures (28–33 °C), the minimumlie cycle is: egg (11 days) ==> hopper (30 days) ==> layingadult (14 days).
This large (45–60 mm) heavily built locust is green or brown in the solitary orm, but straw-coloured whengregarious (swarming). Hind wings have no markings, butmay be aintly greenish yellow. The mandibles (jaws) aredark purple to black. Hopper bands can be a striking blackand tan colour. Adult ight is strong and steady, with theslight green wing tinge visible.
 Yellow-winged locust
Gastrimargus musicus
This locust occurs in all mainland states. Populationsare highest rom spring to autumn, and have previouslycaused crop damage rom areas in Cape York to theLockyer Valley in Queensland. At high populationdensities, hopper bands and adult swarms can orm; eggsare laid in dense egg beds.
Map 1.Normal distribution o the Australian plague locustMap 2.Normal distribution o the spur-throated locustMap 3. Map 4. Map 5.Normal distribution Normal distribution o Normal distribution o o migratory locusts yellow-winged locustwingless grasshopper3 Identication o locusts

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