The Desert Locust
These relatives of the grasshoppers are in fact a severe threat to the people of the desert. They eat up all the plants and crops and the people will be lack of food. There are 2 types of desert locusts: swarming locusts and solitary locusts.
The solitary locust lives on its own like an ordinary grasshopper. The swarming locust usually appears after several rainy seasons.
How have they adapted?
Locusts have a waxed layer covering the body. This stops the water from evaporating into the air. Locusts are champion jumpers. They can jump 10 times their own body length in one leap! They can escape quickly from predators. Young swarming locusts form groups of about 20 000 and hop about on the sand looking for food. They cannot fly and are known as hoppers. Their outer coverings have to be moulted as they grow. After a few weeks, they develop into adult locusts. By that time, all the nearby vegetation had been eaten. The swarm will fly over the deserts in search of plants, eating anything edible on the way. A swarm may have 40 billion locusts in it! It can travel 400 square miles and eat 40 000 tons of plants a day. That is enough to feed a city of 400 000 people for a whole year! Locusts are dreaded by the desert peoples and they are killed with insecticides, fire, explosives and even poison gas!
[ A Desert Locust hopping into the air ]