What are they, locusts or grasshoppers? Experts reveal

By , K24 Digital
On Tue, 14 Jan, 2020 17:28 | 2 mins read

The insects which have invaded Riandira and Gathigiriri villages in Kirinyaga County are not the deadly desert locusts as earlier had earlier been suspected.

Kirinyaga Deputy Governor said that the pests at the two villages are the long-horn grasshoppers.

But the long-horn grasshoppers are equally as destructive if not contained, Ndambiri said.

The deputy governr said that the pests which target green environment, especially food crops and grass were spotted on Monday.

Experts have since been dispatched by the national and county governments to the area.

Ndambiri said the crop protection correctly identified the grasshoppers and immediately commenced containing the pests with ordinary insecticides.

“As you can see the intensity of these insects has been contained after a few hours when they were sprayed with ordinary chemicals which are easily and cheaply available cheaply available at agro-vets," he said.

Ndambiri, who spoke at Riandira village where he visited to assess the situation, assured local farmers that their maize crop is not at risk.

“There is no cause for alarm since our extension officers have been able to oversee the effective spraying of the pests whose population has been completely decimated," he said.

Ndambiri said the county may assist some of the affected farmers with funds from the Disaster Management Kitty.

The presence of the insects had caused fear and panic amongst the residents since their maize crop has just matured and would have been ruined if the insects were not controlled.

A farmer, John Mithamo, said his three-acre maize farm had been partially attacked by the green-colored insects and feared he would lose everything.

Ndambiri told the farmers there is a surveillance team that will remain on the ground until the menace reported in some parts of Meru and Isiolo was contained.

What you need to know about locusts and grasshoppers

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, locusts and grasshoppers are acridid, that is, short-horned insects belonging to a Family called Acrididae in the Orthoptera Order, which also gathers crickets and long-horned grasshoppers.

FAO says locusts differ from grasshoppers by their capacity to react to high densities. Under crowded conditions, their behaviour, morphology, appearance, physiology, habits and ecology change progressively (over several generations), a shift known as phase change. When phase change occurs from a solitary to a gregarious phase, locusts behave no more individually but form eventually dense bands of hoppers and swarms of adults.