There are many species of locusts around the world. Over twenty thousand have been identified and over one thousand exist in the United States alone. Locusts are strong jumpers and they can fly. Though they don’t bite intentionally, they have been known to “chew” a person or two during migration or prolonged contact. Locusts are strong insects with a body well protected and sight which enables them to identify predators from afar. Closely related to crickets, these ferocious and crop damaging pests know how to “sing” and “chirp”. This article will detail some basic biology of locusts, list why they are a pest and then offer solutions on how to keep them away from your gardens and plants.
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LOCUST SPECIES ^
Locusts are known around the world. They are great jumpers and most species can fly as well. They have a tough outerskin which affords them great protection. Pygmy locusts are the least important. They are small with thin bodies which has a dorsal shield completely protecting it. Though they do some damage, Pygmy locusts are thought to have the lease amount of impact. Longhorned locusts are much larger and have antennae which extends beyond the end of their body when folded back. Katydids, Cone-headed Locusts and Meadow Locusts are all members of this family. Long horned locusts do a lot of damage every year; the Mormon Locust was a meadow locust which was responsible for so much damage which early settlers endured while farming Utah. The shorthorned locust is by far the most common of all species and has short antennae. This species includes the Spur-throated locust which is able to molt and migrate when local food supplies are not sufficient. These are the true “locusts” which will leave in late summer/early fall in search of food. They will fly miles and miles when local food is scarce or if they reproduced too much for local conditions to support. Slant faced crickets and Band-Winged locusts are also in the shorthorned species.
Locusts vary in color. This will depend largely on local environments. Dry arid environments tend to produce more species which are tan to brown in color. Moist, succulent terrain will have more green locusts. However, many species will start a season green and turn brown as the summer lags on into fall. Most locusts are great songsters. Males will use sound during courtship and so distinctive is their voice that many people are able to identify species by their song! Shorthorned species are only able to sing by rubbing various body parts together so they are really only able to “chirp”. However, both females and males will use sound throughout the year. It is believed their song is used to communicate food locations, mating seasons and the general state of local populations. Locusts have well developed ears which enable their sound to find the right target from great distances. It is clear their use of sound keeps them close together which is essential for species development and survival.
LOCUST BIOLOGY ^
Most locusts will die out by winter and start from eggs the following year. Pygmy locusts are one of the only species which overwinters and emerges as adults in the spring. What little damage they do is mostly noted at the beginning of the growing season. Most other species will emerge as nymphs in the spring looking like adults but lacking the ability to fly. As they molt through the summer they will reach adulthood late in the season. Once they mate, females will use their ovipositors to lay eggs in plants or the ground, depending on the species. This egg laying process causes great damage to plants. Eggs will then lie dormant through the winter and young will emerge at the beginning of the new growing season the following year.
LOCUST DAMAGE IN THE YARD ^
Locusts are worst known for the damage they do while eating. They have strong chewing mouth parts along with ferocious appetites. Locusts have been known to clear acres of crops, wild terrain and urban landscaping. At times they appear to eat whatever is in their path. This is particularly true when short horned species change over to locusts and migrate. Generally caused by overpopulation or lack of food, locusts are strong flyers and capable of causing uncontrollable damage. There is a certain feeling of helplessness many farmers have felt when they see the great bands of locusts descending upon their crops. Locusts act quickly and will sometimes eat entire plants; other times they ravish randomly. Small local populations are easy to control; large migrating locusts are difficult to stop but preventative steps can be taken to minimize loss.
LOCUST CONTROL AND TREATMENTS ^
The key to successful locust control is the timing of treatments. The timing of your treatments is dependent on which type of locust problem you are experiencing. If you are an avid gardener which experiences locust damage and activity every year, you have a local population which needs to be eliminated. If you are in a region which generally has very little activity but migrating locusts find their way to your property, immediate action is needed to minimize damage and followup treatments recommended to prevent population establishments. The time of the year will dictate what you need to do and which products to use.
LOCUST LAWN GRANULES ^
In the late winter and early spring which will be around February to April in most parts of the United States, you need to apply some BIFEN GRANULES to your turf. These slow releasing granules will kill off young nymph locusts as they emerge from their eggs. Gardeners and property owners who have had an ongoing problem with locusts need to make special note of this time; by treating early you will successfully break the cycle which is having a negative impact on your plants and landscape. Bifen is easy to apply and can be spread with a HAND SPREADER to get proper distribution and coverage. If you are in a dry spell or generally arid part of the country, water them in following application. The granules will release into the ground providing control of many turf pests which emerge in the spring.
As the spring turns into summer, watch local locust activity. If you treated in the spring, you should see a decrease in seasonal activity. The Bifen should have prevented most of the emerging nymphs to die off. If you begin to notice increasing populations by June or July, it is possible new locusts are emerging and developing from other places besides your turf; some species lay their eggs on plants, above ground, and spraying the adults during the summer and fall is the only way to break the cycle. Make sure to watch local locust populations as well. If local media and farm reports are talking about migrating locusts, get ready to do some treating.
LOCUST YARD SPRAY ^
By spraying your plants before they arrive you will head off a lot of damage. Locusts may like to eat but they don’t like the taste of certain products. Treat ahead of their arrival with BIFEN XTS. Bifen is odorless and will effectively keep feeding locusts at bay. Expect to see some land on treated plants but they will die before they are able to cause significant damage. Apply the Bifen with a SPRAYER if you have a small area to treat. Use a HOSE END SPRAYER if you have a lot of turf, plants or shrubs to protect.
Pump Sprayer: http://www.bugspraycart.com/good/pump-sprayers
If you already have activity, use the Bifen to kill current locusts. However, their protective design makes it hard to kill them quickly. In order to get faster results, combine two products with the Bifen. SPREADER STICKER will allow the Bifen to penetrate the locusts quickly; EXCITER will give the mix a quick imobilizing agent allowing the Bifen to do it’s job before more damage occurs. Mix all three together in your Pump Sprayer or Hose End Sprayer and apply a liberal amount to all plants where you see activity or are likely draw activity. Spray to the point of runoff. Treatments may only be needed every week or two but if you are experiencing a massive onslaught of locusts, don’t be afraid to treat every few days until the intial wave subsides. Once activity slows, expect to find some damage but most importantly, be sure there are none around able to lay eggs and get established. Do this by closely watching what happens following your treatments. If activity stops, you may not need to treat anymore. If you still find new ones through the rest of the summer and into the fall, continue to spray.
Spreader Sticker: http://www.bugspraycart.com/insecticide/additive/spreader-sticker
6 % Pyrethrin: http://www.bugspraycart.com/insecticide/liquid/exciter-16-oz
ORGANIC SPRAY FOR CICADAS ^
If you prefer to spray something organic for cicadas, BUG PATROL is the only organic gardening approved concentrate we’ve seen that’s strong enough to deal with this tough pest. It comes packed in a “ready to spray” hose end sprayer. Just hook it to your garden hose and you’re ready to go.
Bug Patrol: http://www.bugspraycart.com/organic/liquid/bug-patrol-32-oz-rts
Once the late summer turns to fall, generally August through December, your spraying will keep local activity in check. This will do a great job of preventing successful egg laying or population establishment. In most cases, the spraying will knock out all activity. However, large populations will leave your turf vulnerable. If you find spraying is killing off most activity but some locusts are still finding their way onto your property, treat with the Bifen Granules. These granules will kill off these last adults as they land in turf trying to lay eggs. A late season treatment will insure you don’t have to contend with them next year.
CONTACT US ^
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