Day ight diers 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 rainall. 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 rainallevents. This strategy ensures at least some insects will ndgreen vegetation and successully reproduce. However,when rain is widespread, the majority o locusts breedsuccessully, and population increase is very rapid. I thisoccurs or three or our generations, a plague can develop.
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 uninested areasand lay eggs within days, combined with the mobility o ying swarms, makes swarm control particularly difcultor 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 (
) is oten encountered asa pest o urban and arm gardens but is not o economicimportance.
Australian plague locust
This is the most economically important Australianlocust because o the extent and requency o outbreaks.Successul breeding occurs ater 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 (otenassociated 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 aircrat 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 minimumlie 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—oten 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, otenlanding side on to the observer. This ight is also typical o several grasshopper species, including the eastern plaguelocust. This insect looks very similar to
, butits hind wings are pale yellow with a dark band and it lacksthe red shanks on the hind legs.
2 Identication o locusts