Locust outbreaks increase with two additional species in Southern Africa and China

New outbreaks of the African Migratory Locust (Locusta migratoria migratorioides) and the Yellow-spined Bamboo Locust (Ceracris kiangsu) are causing concern in addition to the ongoing outbreaks of the Desert Locust and South American Locust.

Southern African countries have launched an emergency response to outbreaks of the African Migratory Locust which, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), is threatening the food security and livelihoods of millions of people in Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. These outbreaks are smaller and separate from the Desert Locust (Schistocerca gregaria) emergency in eastern Africa and southwest Asia. Compounding effects of a 2019 drought and the COVID-19 pandemic are reported to make the food and nutrition security issues more acute.

Large numbers of the Yellow-spined Bamboo Locust started causing problems in Laos and Vietnam earlier this year and are now spreading throughout China’s southwestern province of Yunnan. Reports trace the locusts back to a 2013 outbreak in northeast Laos. Swarms have destroyed cropland, particularly corn (~3,000 ha) and bamboo trees (~10,000 ha) according to an update in the latest issue of Metaleptea stoking concerns over food security. Managers have used drones capable of deploying pesticides on the insects, in addition to other management campaigns as the insects were noticed along the border of Pu’er and Laos late June 2020.

Yellow-spined Bamboo Locust. Photo credit: Zhang Long
Crop damage by Yellow-spined Bamboo Locust. Photo credit: Zhang Long

News Coverage:
BBC News: South Africa: Farmers battle locusts to save the country’s food crops
Locust outbreaks threaten food security in southern Africa
Locusts Now Threatening Parts of Southern Africa, UN Says
Crops at risk as southern China battles worst locust infestation in decades
Yellow-Spined Bamboo Locust Invades Southwest China, Occupies Nearly 6,667 Hectares
Locust Plague Hits Phongsaly, 5 Hectares of Crops Destroyed
Yellow-spined bamboo locust swarms invade Yunan province Long Zhang in latest issue of Metaleptea (Vol. 40, Issue 3)
Chinese Authorities Deploy Fleets of Drones to Battle Locust Invasion
FAO updates: Southern Africa locust outbreak September 2020
Explainer: what’s behind the locust swarms damaging crops in southern Africa