They say that the most beautiful snakes are also the most venomous. This post however, is not about snakes but locusts. I got a chance to see one of the most beautiful insects despite the fact that am not such a huge fan of bugs. The African rainbow locust, or more scientifically Phymateus viridipes displays an array of colors when disturbed. These colors are also a form of warning to predators. This locust, despite being very colorful is also very toxic and produces a colorless liquid from its thorax when disturbed. The females of the species Phymateus viridipes are unable to fly, despite fully developed wings.

These insects feed on toxic plants including some shrubs and trees. Like I said earlier, I got a chance to see this locust in our farm. The tree on which a swarm of them had perched, was left with no leaves as shown in the picture. A swarm of locusts can cause massive losses to farmers as they feed on farmed crops; many countries have suffered a span of famine and starvation due to this destructive effect. They are found in many parts of the world, including Africa, Caribbean and the middle eastern countries. They also migrate large distances meaning the economic losses can be spread to neighboring countries, or even continents.

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Locust control involves use of insecticides that are sprayed by the aid of airplanes since they affect a wide area. Biological control methods such as the use of predators (wasps,birds, reptiles) may be useful in the control of small swarms. Prevention, however, is better than control hence effective methods of monitoring and surveillance for locust patterns is important and the key players need to be alert. It takes less than three locusts to create a swarm or rather, a plague.

 

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