The Migratory Locust (Locusta migratoria) is an insect in the Acrididae family of Short-Horned Grasshoppers.
The Migratory Locust varies in colour from black to brownish to yellowish and green, depending on the colour of the vegetation. Generally, it has a blackish-brown back and light-brown belly and face. It has short antennae. It has long wings and long legs.
It grows to 4-6 centimetres (1.5-2.5 inches) long.
The Migratory Locust is native to Africa, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand. It prefers scrublands. It does not like mountain regions, and it does not like rainforests. When it swarms and migrates, it does not travel across mountains or rainforests, so these form natural barriers.
The Migratory Locust has two phases: the solitary phase (in areas where there is plenty of food) and the gregarious phase (during drought). This is called polyphenism. Solitary locusts move around on their own, but during the gregarious phase the locusts swarm together.
It is highly mobile and a powerful flyer, spending a lot of time flying. It travels in groups, called swarms, and can travel 5-130 kilometres (3-80 miles) per day. During the swarming phase, it eats a lot of vegetation. The periods when they are not swarming are called recessions.
The life cycle of the Migratory Locust consists of three stages: the egg, the nymph (the hopper), and the adult locust (winged adult).
The female locust lays an eggpod in the soil. The eggpod is about 4 centimetres (2 inches) long. It contains about 100 eggs. The eggpod remains in the soil for about 14 days.
The newly hatched nymphs feed on plants. As they grow, they moult (shed their outer covering, called an exo-skeleton). It takes about 5 moults before becoming an adult locust. The stages between each moult is called an instar.
The Migratory Locust can live between 3-6 months.
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM