Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Plagues of desert locusts: very low invasion risk to China.

Abstract

Recently, the most serious upsurge of the desert locust (Schistocerca gregaria) in the last 25 years is spreading across eastern Africa and southwestern Asia. Parts of the desert locust 'invasion area', namely the northern border areas of Pakistan and India, are very close to China, and whether locust swarms will invade China is of wide concern. To answer this question, we identified areas of potentially suitable habitat for the desert locust within China based on historical precipitation and temperature data, and found that parts of Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia provinces could provide ephemeral habitat in summer, but these places are remote from any other desert locust breeding areas. New generation adults of the desert locust in Pakistan and India present since April led to swarms spreading into the Indo-Pakistan border region in June, and so we examined historical wind data for this period. Our results showed that winds at the altitude of locust swarm flight blew eastward during April-June, but the wind speeds were quite slow and would not facilitate desert locust eastward migration over large distances. Simulated trajectories of desert locust swarms undertaking 10-day migrations mostly ended within India. The most easterly point of these trajectories just reached eastern India, and this is very close to the eastern border of the invasion area of desert locusts described in previous studies. Overall, the risk that the desert locust will invade China is very low.