New weapons for old enemies
The swarms cross the Atlantic, fly over the Gulf of Mexico. And then into the Caribbean and then fly back into the Pacific.
Scientists were puzzled because migratory swarms usually come to rest at night. But locusts cannot swim, so how could it be? It turns out that the flock went out to sea to find a ship. And the first bodies formed a raft on which others could rest. The first drowned, then the second. And so on, until finally the third and finally the fourth flowed into the ocean.
Throughout history, farmers and governments have tried to ward off swarms of locusts by collecting the insects. Making noise and smoke, burying and burning them. But humanity is facing a new kind of swarm, one of the most dangerous and destructive in the world. Desert dwellers in West Africa and India have turned from loners into huge, voracious swarms, leaving hunger and poverty everywhere.
For a long time it has been a mystery where these animals come from and where they survive. But none of this has had much impact. They have conquered vast tracts of land, sometimes stretching for hundreds of kilometres and encompassing billions of individuals.
It was not until the mid-20th century that it became clear that. These light brown desert insects were responsible for the spread of malaria, dengue fever, and other diseases. When biology was understood and chemical pesticides. That spray into the air became available a few decades ago, efforts were made to control these insects. However, the widespread use of pesticides has also raised concerns about human health and the environment.
Keith Cressman, FAO Locust Forecaster. Checks his desk in the office of the Director General for Food and Agriculture. In Washington, D.C., USA, in this photo.
New bio-control agents
The last large wave of locusts ended at the beginning of 2005. And the current alert level is green and calm. Recent advances in biological control research, combined with improved surveillance. And intelligence, could make a big difference in defeating the next round of the battle for control. Last time, Cressman said, we will fight with new instruments. But the experts from FAO and ECLO are preparing to fight the next round, wherever and whenever that may be.
Such products could make it possible to drastically reduce the use of chemical pesticides and combat locusts better.
A promising approach is the study of locust pheromones and chemical signals in young localities and their offspring. The ICIPE team, led by Zanzibar-born chemical ecologist Ahmed Al-Khatib, has identified. And synthesized a special chemical signal called “locust – phersomon,” which can be applied without devastating effects on young locusts.
Phenylacetonitrile (PAN for short) normally controls adult males. Who also use it to warn other males to leave them alone before mating. Sansanali found startlingly different results in juvenile wingless locusts known as hopper. Adult pubs form swarms, and there are adults who eat their own weight of food every day. The funnel will behave as an individual under the right conditions, but not as a group of adults.
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Confused and disoriented, some lose their appetite, while others become cannibalistic and eat each other. PAN causes the insects to behave solitary again and the survivors to be easy prey for predators. Hassanali’s team showed that even a tiny dose could prevent PAN and Hopper from blowing up their ranks.
What makes PAN particularly attractive is that the dose required is only a few milligrams per kilogram of body weight, less than one tenth the weight of a human hair.
This is an important consideration, as many of them live in the poor world, resulting in annual costs of $50 per hectare compared to $1,000 per hectare for agricultural land and $2,500 per hectare for industrial land.
This is definitely not good news for locusts, but a highly effective biological approach is a bio-pesticide developed and produced in South Africa. Green muscle (r) contains a naturally occurring fungus, which then destroys grasshopper tissue from the inside. The fungus has no effects on other life forms and no negative effects on human health or the health of other animals.
A product similar to the Green Muscle (r) has already been successfully used in Australia, and several factors have slowed the growth of locusts in South Africa and other parts of the world. These include lack of access to natural resources, poor weather conditions, lack and lack of them, and the high cost of food and water.
One downside is that it takes days to kill locusts, and it is also relatively expensive. In order to organize a large-scale production, a large-scale production would have to be organized.
One solution would be to store the product in powder form and dilute it shortly before use. Hassanali’s team has also shown that a combination of small amounts of PAN in combination with a small amount of other insecticides such as chlorophyll and chlorpyrifos is required. In addition, a known insect growth regulator (IGR) in the form of an insecticide is ready to impair the funnel’s ability to molt and grow properly. It has no direct toxic effects on vertebrates, but can cause serious health problems in humans and animals.
Insect Growth Regulators
IGR can be used as a barrier treatment and is effective for several weeks after application. In this method, only the narrowest part of the product perpendicular to the direction of the marching hopper is applied.
The funnel absorbs enough product to cause the skin to die by passing through one of the two barriers. IGR takes aim at locusts during aerial photography However, the Green Muscle (r) of PAN has a much higher concentration of the product than the other two methods. This, in turn, requires the use of a large amount of water to ensure that the concentrations of ecosystems suffocate at the buds. The amount used for surface treatment requires at least 1,000 times more product per square inch than for barrier treatment.
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Although ECLO’s Keith Cressman has satellites, computers, and mathematical models, the weakest link in the chain is the time it takes for reports to be published. It might take a week or more for a report to land on his desk, but that will soon change. He is working with a mobile ground team responsible for tracking locust populations so that good local information is forgotten.
The field team will now be equipped with a special handheld device that records important environmental data of the locusts and transmits it in real time to its own headquarters in Rome. The elocust2 device, developed by the French space agency CNES, is capable of bouncing information off communications satellites and transmitting data a few minutes later, which is then forwarded to Cressman for analysis.
According to Cressman and his team, immediate action must be taken to ensure that the locusts never grow old enough to swarm.
Back to the field
On a beautiful November morning in Morocco, it becomes clear from afar that something is wrong with the trees in this tiny village. As we approach, we hear a steady stream of locust droppings falling to the ground. The trees eat away at the tiny leaves, and the closer you get, the more the colour becomes a floundering mass. Locusts, one of the most common invasive species in the world, may one day be a thing of the past.