What's behind the locust swarms damaging crops in Southern Africa?
Farmer's Weekly|November 13, 2020
In this article, originally published by theconversation.com, Prof Frances Duncan of the School of Animal, Plant and Environmental Sciences at the University of the Witwatersrand, whose research involves investigating the survival strategies of brown locusts, explains what is behind the migratory locust outbreak ravaging crops and pastures across Southern Africa.

Africa is currently experiencing two locust outbreaks, both due to unusual climatic conditions.

These two outbreaks are unrelated, but are the result of the unusually high rainfall and flooding in the areas where low densities of the locusts occur. The desert locust (Schistocerca gregaria) is producing a plague type outbreak in North and East Africa, which started in June 2019, and the threat is still there.

Then there are localised swarms of the African migratory locust (Locusta migratoria migratorioides) in Southern Africa. Two other locust species, the red locust (Nomadacris septemfasciata) and the brown locust (Locustana pardalina), are known to have swarmed and caused agricultural damage in Southern Africa, affecting seven million people in Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

How swarms form

Locusts are grasshoppers that have the potential to form a swarm of thousands to hundreds of thousands of individuals. They undergo phase polymorphism, which means that they can change from a solitary form into a gregarious form, congregating in large numbers. These forms have different colours and different behaviours.

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM FARMER'S WEEKLYView All

SUMMERTIME SALADS

These salads are a celebration of summer, and are perfect to have on their own or as a side. They are also easy to make and super affordable. Bon appétit!

4 mins read
Farmer's Weekly
January 1-8, 2021

North West farmers extend helping hand to hungry communities

Prompted by their own hardship during a decade of drought, farmers in the Schweizer-Reneke area have recognised the urgent need to help unemployed and hungry families in the local communities. Lindi Botha spoke to Jozeph du Plessis about the farmers’ project to distribute maize meal to the needy.

4 mins read
Farmer's Weekly
January 1-8, 2021

Backgrounding Beef Animals For Higher Profit

Most South African beef producers sell their weaners straight to feedlots for finishing. Chéri-Lynn Steyn, a master’s student in agricultural economics, explains how backgrounding these animals can increase the income of commercial beef farms and even of the feedlots themselves.

7 mins read
Farmer's Weekly
January 1-8, 2021

Economic Outlook 2021: Now Is The Time To Build Reserves

After a particularly tough year for its economy, South Africa faces many challenges in 2021. Reduced spending power, credit downgrades, and a second wave of COVID-19 could put a damper on agricultural profits this year, and farmers will need to consider their marketing plans carefully. Lindi Botha shares advice from two of the country’s leading economists.

7 mins read
Farmer's Weekly
January 1-8, 2021

Good Summer Rain Forecast For SA

Weather experts have predicted above-average precipitation for South Africa’s summer rainfall areas in 2020/2021. Meteorologist Johan van den Berg explained the weather cycles and La Niña/El Niño phenomena behind the forecast to Jeandré van der Walt.

3 mins read
Farmer's Weekly
January 1-8, 2021

Land Reform 2021: Beware Of Fake News

Land reform in South Africa is mired in policy uncertainty and government neglect. At the same time, it is a political football, kicked around shamelessly by some leaders to serve short-term political goals. Glenneis Kriel spoke to three experts in the field to obtain clarity on this crucially important topic.

9 mins read
Farmer's Weekly
January 1-8, 2021

Managing calf health for maximum long-term productivity

Prevention is better than cure, and this mindset is especially applicable when it comes to preparing calves for their productive adult lives. Dr Schabort Froneman, technical manager for ruminants at Zoetis, provides some pointers on how to raise healthy calves that can become healthy adult animals.

7 mins read
Farmer's Weekly
December 18, 2020

The stories that got us through a tough year

Farmer’s Weekly editor, Denene Erasmus, looks back at some of the top stories of 2020 that not only inspired her, but also served as an example to all South Africans of the remarkable resilience and determination shown by the farming sector during this most unusual year.

9 mins read
Farmer's Weekly
December 18, 2020

SA Harvest: fighting hunger and food waste one meal at a time

Small beginnings can lay the foundation of great success. This holds true for SA Harvest, a food rescue and distribution organisation. Ali Conn, regional manager at SA Harvest, spoke to Jeandré van der Walt about the organisation’s journey over the past year and its future plans.

5 mins read
Farmer's Weekly
December 18, 2020

Diversifying with a new variety pays off for pumpkin producer

The demand for convenient meals and easy-to-prepare vegetables is opening up marketing opportunities for the Hokkaido pumpkin, a newcomer to South Africa. Small, and with an edible peel, the variety holds much promise for expanding cucurbit cultivation. Lindi Botha spoke to Francois Steyn about farming the Hokkaido.

5 mins read
Farmer's Weekly
December 18, 2020
RELATED STORIES

GENE-EDITING TREATMENT SHOWS PROMISE FOR SICKLE CELL DISEASE

Scientists are seeing promising early results from the first studies testing gene editing for painful, inherited blood disorders that plague millions worldwide, especially Black people.

3 mins read
AppleMagazine
AppleMagazine #476

GEOLOGY 101 Columnar Basalt

A distinctive volcanic structure found throughout the world has been given fanciful names: “Organ Pipes” in Namibia and Victoria, Australia; “Kilt Rock” and “Samson’s Ribs” in Scotland; “Giant’s Causeway” in Northern Ireland; “Thunderstruck Rocks” in Romania; “Devils Tower” in Wyoming and “Paul Bunyan’s Woodpile” in Utah, USA; the “Baigong Pipes” in China; and the “Cliff of Stone Plates” in Vietnam. High-resolution satellite images have even shown similar as-yet-unnamed structures on Mars.

1 min read
Rock&Gem Magazine
December 2020

A REACH TOO FAR

This is not the story I thought I’d be writing when I began my motorcycling adventure on Namibia’s gravel roads.

8 mins read
Adventure Motorcycle (ADVMoto)
November - December 2020

HOLLYWOOD HATES RENNER'S MUSIC!

Even actor’s pals tune him out

1 min read
National Enquirer
September 07, 2020

AFRICAN DREAMS

With cruises that visit South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, and Zimbabwe, CroisiEurope shows off the best that land and water have to offer.

5 mins read
Porthole Cruise Magazine
September/October 2020

TIME TO LAMENT

Reconciliation through Mourning

4 mins read
White Wing Messenger
September 2020

Not Pregnant

In this work of creative nonfiction from Cuba, plague is something common shared with those who lived in Thebes.

5 mins read
World Literature Today
Summer 2020

MADONNA'S MENTAL MELTDOWN!

Pals fear for Material Girl after COVID-19 craziness

1 min read
Globe
May 25, 2020

Open Towards Love

LLEWELLYN VAUGHAN-LEE explores love in the time of coronavirus, and how those of us with a spiritual practice can turn the results into action, bringing care and compassion into our communities.

3 mins read
Heartfulness eMagazine
May 2020

ESCAPIST UTOPIA

A JOURNEY FROM THE HEART OF NAMIBIA TO THE SKELETON COAST IN LAND ROVER’S STUNNING NEW OFF-ROAD CHAMPION

9 mins read
Motor Trend
June 2020