Locusts can cause mass destruction

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Locusts are a collection of certain species of short-horned grasshoppers that exhibit a swarming phase.

The desert locus is potentially the most dangerous of the locust pests due to their ability to form large swarms of individuals that can fly rapidly across great distances to devastate plants and crops.

Plagues of desert locusts have threatened agricultural production in Africa, the Middle East and Asia for centuries. In some years, they may form locust plagues which can consume all vegetation including crops. At other times, they seem to live unnoticed in small numbers doing little damage.

The migrations seem to be triggered by sudden population explosions in the desert areas where the insects breed. Although invasive movements of desert locusts were recorded in biblical times, insect migration received little scientific attention until the 1920s and 1930s.

However, their swarming is periodical and has made them both feared and revered throughout history.

It is estimated that 100,000 tons (which is the weight of the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier when fully loaded) is the amount of food a large swarm of desert locusts can consume in just one day.

A typical swarm can be more than 30 miles long, 5 miles wide.

In 1954, a single swarm of desert locusts, estimated at 10 billion individuals and covering an area of 77 square miles, ravaged Kenya causing mass destruction of plant life and starvation of many people.

In February 2020, the desert locusts destroyed tens of thousands of acres of crops and grazing land in north east Africa in the worst invasion in 25 years.

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