There is a $100 million national campaign in Australia to prevent a locust plague from wiping billions of dollars from the value of the Australian rural sector.
The public are being asked to help to pinpoint the locations of the young locusts or ‘hoppers’ because the "strike time" for spraying is limited to one month before they start flying in plagues, and devastating orchards, vineyards and pastures. See locust plague clip at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I8STQStqUzE&feature=related
Australians are being asked to report locust activity directly to the Australian Plague Locust Commission (APLC) by phoning 1800 635 962 or online at http://www.daff.gov.au/animal-plant-health/locusts/landholders/reporting...
Spraying must be completed soon so that it doesn’t contaminate lucrative export crops and harm livestock. Grain will be rejected if it contains more than three locusts in every half litre of wheat or barley and 10 for canola.
Analysts fear a locust cropping disaster would exacerbate the tight world grain supply, which is at risk from drought in Russia, Ukraine and a number of countries across Europe. Heavy rain in the summer helped to generate swarms of locusts in autumn, leading to massive egg laying. Authorities are warning that the locust plague is threatening to be more widespread and more difficult to combat than previously anticipated.
There is an Australian government website that gives a summary of the known distribution of locusts during August 2010 and provides a brief outlook to mid-October 2010 at http://www.daff.gov.au/animal-plant-health/locusts/current
It says quote “The spring outlook is for a serious widespread nymphal infestation of locusts in several regions of New South Wales, northern Victoria and eastern South Australia as a result of extensive egg laying by adult swarms during autumn. The plague situation, where numerous regions across several states are affected by high densities of locusts, could continue during summer if there is a high level of nymphal survival in spring.”
“In New South Wales spring hatching of eggs will commence in early September in northern areas, during September in the Central West and Far West, and from early October in the Riverina and Far Southwest. Significant hatchings commenced near Brewarrina in early September. In South Australia hatchings will commence in mid-September in the Flinders Ranges area and the Murray Valley, and will continue during October in southern areas. Spring hatchings will commence in late September in Northwest Victoria, through to mid-October in areas south of Echuca and late October in the Horsham area.”
The government website shows a map of locust risk zones for spring 2010 and also shows forecasted development dates for indicative locations during spring 2010 and a map of locust forecasted regions.
Another Government website at http://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/agriculture/pests-weeds/insects/locusts/media-... shows the following interesting facts :-
• The 2010/11 locust season is predicted to be the worst outbreak in at least 30 years.
• A swarm covering one kilometre can eat up to 10 tonnes of vegetation per day.
• If 100 hectares of locust bands are not effectively controlled they may develop into 1,000 hectares of adult swarms.
• Past campaigns have shown that for every $1,000 spent controlling locusts, at least $20,000 worth of crops and pastures have been saved.
• Australian plague locusts generally mature within two weeks of becoming adult.
• Females can commence egg laying 4-7 days after maturing.
• In summer, eggs can hatch within 14–16 days.
• Female locusts lay eggs in batches, called pods, in the soil and each pod can contain up to 60 eggs.
• Locust “bands” can contain up to 15,000 hoppers per square metre at the front of the band.
• Swarms generally fly within 15 m of the ground and frequently at less than 3m and often appear to roll across the countryside.
• Swarms can infest areas up to 50 km2.
• Locusts can migrate up to 600 km or more in a single night.
• People in several countries eat locusts. Locusts are rich in protein and can be stir-fried, roasted or boiled.
• A swarm of locusts, covering 1 kilometre (km)2, could contain anything from 4 million to over 50 million individual locusts.