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Mating Locusts

Mating Locusts
Photo Information
Copyright: Joe Kellard (joey) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1739 W: 224 N: 6872] (24909)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2007-12-01
Categories: Insects
Camera: Canon Powershot S3 IS, Digital ISO-80, Kenko 58mm UV filter
Exposure: f/3.5, 1/125 seconds
Details: (Fill) Flash: Yes
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version
Theme(s): Alex99's favorite photos, Orthoptera of Europe incl. Turkey-2 [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2007-12-05 1:14
Viewed: 5240
Points: 36
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
Firstly, thankyou to everybody who critiqued my photos yesterday :)

These are mating Desert Locusts.
I hope you like it!

Plagues of the Desert Locust (Schistocerca gregaria) have threatened agricultural production in Africa, the Middle East and Asia for centuries. The livelihood of at least one-tenth of the world’s human population can be affected by this vociferous insect. The Desert Locust is potentially the most dangerous of the locust pests because of the ability of swarms to fly rapidly across great distances. It has two to five generations per year. The northern highlands of Ethiopia (Tigray) and Eritrea slow the movements of desert locusts to the breeding areas of the Red Sea coast. Potential desert locust plagues originating in east Africa can be prevented if action is taken during or before localized outbreaks in Eritrea and Sudan (Jahn 1993[1]). The 2004 desert locust outbreak has caused significant crop losses in West Africa and had a negative impact on food security in the region. While the Desert Locust alone is not responsible for famines, it can be an important contributing factor.

The Desert Locust lives a solitary life until it rains. Rain causes vegetation growth and allows the female to lay eggs in the sandy soil. The new vegetation provides food for the newly hatched locusts and provides them with shelter as they develop into winged adults.

When vegetation is distributed in such a way that the nymphs, usually called hoppers, have to congregate to feed, and there has been sufficient rain for a lot of eggs to hatch, the close physical contact causes the insects' hind legs to bump up against one another. This stimulus triggers a cascade of metabolic and behavioral changes that cause the insects' to transform from the solitary form to the gregarious form. When the hoppers become gregarious they change from green coloured to yellow and black, and the adults change from brown to red (immature) or yellow (mature). Their bodies become shorter, and they give off a pheromone that causes them to be attracted to each other, enhancing hopper band and subsequently swarm formation. Interestingly, the nymphal pheromone is different from the adult one. When exposed to the adult pheromone, hoppers become confused and disoriented, because they can apparently no longer "smell" each other, though the visual and tactile stimuli remain. After a few days, the hopper bands disintegrate and those that escape predation become solitary again. It's possible that this effect could aid locust control in the future.

During quiet periods, called recessions, Desert Locusts are confined to a 16-million-square-kilometers belt that extends from Mauritania through the Sahara Desert in northern Africa, across the Arabian Peninsula, and into northwest India. Under optimal ecological and climatic conditions, several successive generations can occur, causing swarms to form and invade countries on all sides of the recession area, as far north as Spain and Russia, as far south as Nigeria and Kenya, and as far east as India and southwest Asia. As many as 60 countries can be affected within an area of 32-million-square-kilometers, or approximately 20 percent of the Earth's land surface.

Locust swarms fly with the wind at roughly the speed of the wind. They can cover from 100 to 200 kilometers in a day and will fly up to about 2,000 meters above sea level (thereafter, it becomes too cold). Although a recent plague of locusts in the Zanskar valley (standing at 3,500 m above sea level) where desert locusts have been present for the past three years and have been swarming on a number of occasions could suggest this is not the case.[citation needed] Therefore, swarms cannot cross tall mountain ranges such as the Atlas Mountains, the Hindu Kush or the Himalayas. They will not venture into the rain forests of Africa nor into central Europe. However, locust adults and swarms regularly cross the Red Sea between Africa and the Arabian Peninsula and are even reported to have crossed the Atlantic Ocean from Africa to the Caribbean in ten days during the 1987-89 plague. A single swarm can cover up to 1200 square kilometers and can contain between 40 and 80 million locusts per square kilometer. The locust can live between three to six months, and there is a ten to sixteen fold increase in locust numbers from one generation to the next.

Thankyou for all your comments :)

Jamesp, red45, ramthakur, cicindela, nainnain, eqshannon, Silvio2006, nglen, LordPotty, jrobertop, haraprasan, pierrefonds, Alex99 has marked this note useful
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To Jamesp: Random number pickerjoey 1 12-05 01:36
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Critiques [Translate]

Hi Joe

Superb shot - great detail and POV. I assume this was taken through glass - if so even better. However, at this hour of the morning - 'bonking' locusts!! ;)


  • Great 
  • red45 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2636 W: 74 N: 9091] (31094)
  • [2007-12-05 1:46]

Hi Joe!

Caught in the act :-) Very sharp and detailed picture. DOF is very good, too. I like side view of these insects. Expect another few millions of locusts soon :-)

This is real professional work, Joe.
The image is razor sharp and fill flash has been used to great effect in this shot.

BTW, thanks for your generous words on my 500th post.
Keep it up and all the best.

Hi Joe
You have really nice action here with good details.
Well done.

JOE, toutes mes félicitations pour cette superbe image de bonne netteté.
les couleurs sont magnifiques et le BG excellent
bravo a toi et merci du partage

hello joe,
lovely capture of the mating insects, nice pov, well composed shot, sharp image with good details,
tfs & regards

How sarcastic I would be saying "Happy Locust Mating Day". For a series in how pest re-invent the next generation of crop destroyers, this is a good show. The numbers in plagues always amazes me...I have not seen nor do I look forward to ever seeing such a swarm, Biblical in proportions! Perhaps learning a bit about their mating habits will enhance my own personal mental health, so that I do not feel too badly if someone comes up with an eradication program.

  • Great 
  • lousat Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 6595 W: 89 N: 15659] (65489)
  • [2007-12-05 8:38]

Hi Joe..i see a lot of this insect but never caught in the act...very perfect pic and colurs,thaks for share,Luciano

Hi Joe

Great shot with excellent exposure and detail.
POV, composition and colors very nice.
Thank you! With best regards,

Hi Joe , lovely couple in love, great action, splendid details, wonderful colors and excellent sharpness, very well done, ciao Silvio

Hi Joe,
Well done...
Good content and quality. Nice moment as well.
I like the colors and compo.

  • Great 
  • nglen Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2883 W: 30 N: 9683] (36145)
  • [2007-12-05 12:37]

Hi Joe. A very good close up shot of the pair. good detail and colours.you have very sharp focusing with this one. good use of the light. well done TFS. good notes too.

Excellent macro Joe.
Perfect exposure with greatr detail and colour.
Very comprehensive notes too.
An excellent post!

Hello Joe ,
Splendid flagrant!
Wonderful shot with excellent details and definition.
Perfect coloration and very good luminosity.
Great photographic work!
José Roberto

Hi Joe,
A sharp and clear capture of this beautiful yet dangerous to human economy creature. Very good angle of view with excellent composition and colors. Thanks a lot for sharing.

Hi Joe,

A nice image of the mating locusts, the photo has a good composition, sharpness and beautiful colors. thanks for sharing.


  • Great 
  • Alex99 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4072 W: 133 N: 7096] (23735)
  • [2007-12-07 10:33]

Hi Joe.
Simply outstanding close-up. Terrific sharpness and details of the grasshoppers. Tremendous lights. POV is precise, colour palette is fantastic. Bravo, my friend. Perfect done.

Hi Joe!
Sorry for delay with writting comment to this wonderful picture :)
I have to say that this kind of photo I really want to take! But till now without success...
Mating orthopterans are so rarely observed that it is very difficult to photograph them. You kept in perfect way both DOF and sharpness. Also colours and low (great!) POV are very nice for watching!
It is a very good work my Friend!
TFS and best withes!

PS.Why I always wanted to take such photo? Please feel free to watch pictures from my theme ;>

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