Nomadacris septemfasciata (red locust)
- Taxonomic Tree
- Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature
- Distribution Table
- Hosts/Species Affected
- Host Plants and Other Plants Affected
- Growth Stages
- List of Symptoms/Signs
- Biology and Ecology
- Natural enemies
- Notes on Natural Enemies
- Detection and Inspection
- Similarities to Other Species/Conditions
- Prevention and Control
- Distribution Maps
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PicturesTop of page
IdentityTop of page
Preferred Scientific Name
- Nomadacris septemfasciata Audinet-Serville, 1838
Preferred Common Name
- red locust
Other Scientific Names
- Acridium coangustatum Lucas, 1862
- Acridium fasciferum Finot, 1907
- Acridium purpuriferum Finot, 1907
- Acridium sanctae-mariae Finot, 1907
- Acridium septemfasciatum Audinet-Serville, 1938
- Acridium subsellatum Finot, 1907
- Cyrtacanthacris coangustata Kirby, 1910
- Cyrtacanthacris fascifera Walker, 1870
- Cyrtacanthacris purpurifera Walker, 1870
- Cyrtacanthacris sanctae-mariae Kirby, 1910
- Cyrtacanthacris septemfasciata Kirby, 1902
- Cyrtacanthacris subsellata Walker, 1870
- Nomadacris fascifera Orian, 1957
- Nomadacris septemfasciata insularis Chopard, 1936
- Patanga septemfasciata Jago, 1981
- Schistocerca septemfasciata
International Common Names
- English: locust, red; locust, red-winged; red-winged locust
- Spanish: langosta roja
- French: criquet nomade
Local Common Names
- Angola: gafanhoto vermelho
- Germany: Rote Wanderheuschrecke; Rotflügelige Wanderheuschrecke; Schrecke, Nomadacris-; Wanderheuschrecke, Rote; Wanderheuschrecke, Rotflügelige
- Madagascar: valala mena elatra
- Mozambique: gafanhoto vermelho
- South Africa: rooi sprinkhaan
- Tanzania: nzige mwekundu
- NOMAFA (Nomadacris fascifera)
- NOMASE (Nomadacris septemfasciata)
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Metazoa
- Phylum: Arthropoda
- Subphylum: Uniramia
- Class: Insecta
- Order: Orthoptera
- Family: Acrididae
- Genus: Nomadacris
- Species: Nomadacris septemfasciata
Notes on Taxonomy and NomenclatureTop of page
DescriptionTop of page
Eggs are laid in pods containing 20-100 eggs (gregarious females) or 20-195 eggs (solitarious females). The egg masses are straight and 2-4 cm long by 8-10 mm wide. They are covered on top by a froth plug of about 3 cm long, but they are not surrounded by a wall of froth mixed with sand grains like in other grasshopper species. The eggs are 5-7 mm long and arranged radially. Their colour is fawn (brownish) and they are covered with a strong chorion exhibiting a hexagonal fine-structure with small tubercles at the angles (Popov et al., 1990).
At hatching, the nymphs are still loosely covered with the embryonic cuticle (Smee, 1936). It is shed as soon as the nymphs emerge from the soil and heaps of these exuviae can be found at recently hatched egg fields. There are six to eight nymphal instars, solitarious locusts having more instars than gregarious ones. Purely solitarious nymphs are mostly green with a thin black line under the eyes. Gregarious ones are brown, black and yellow (Faure, 1932). They typically have a yellow pronotum with a median black stripe and a black spot on the sides, and a black spot on the distal half of the hind femora. Intermediate forms ('transiens') have varying amounts of black depending on the degree of gregarisation.
N. septemfasciata is a large locust: females are 55-85 mm, males 50-70 mm. Solitarious adults are larger on average than gregarious ones. The former are largely (reddish) brown and grey. Their tegmina carry oblique spots or fasciae (usually seven) and their wings are clear and pale red to purplish at the base. Gregarious adults are more reddish in general colour especially the younger ones.
DistributionTop of page
The main breeding areas of N. septemfasciata, from where the majority of invasions and plagues originate, are the Mweru wa Ntipa Valley in north-western Zambia, the Kafue flats in southern Zambia, the Rukwa Valley in south-western Tanzania, the Malagarasi and Wembere plains in central Tanzania, Lake Chilwa in southern Malawi, the Busi-Gorongosa flood plains in Mozambique, and to a lesser extent southern Madagascar. Other important breeding areas are the central Niger delta in Mali and the southern shores of Lake Chad. Swarms do develop from time to time in the latter areas, but plagues have never resulted. Finally, resident breeding populations occur on Mauritius, Réunion and the Cape Verde islands. During the last major plague (1930-1944), which originated in the Mweru wa Ntipa and Rukwa Valleys, swarms invaded areas from the South African Cape Province to Khartoum and from Angola to Kenya and Somalia. Since then, invasions have occasionally occurred, for example, in the early 1970s and most recently in 1996/97, but these never developed into long-lasting plagues.
In addition to the records listed, the species has been captured in Chad and Niger (C. Kooyman, CAB International, African Regional Centre, Nairobi, Kenya, personal communication, 1991/1992).
Distribution TableTop of page
The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.Last updated: 17 Feb 2021
|Continent/Country/Region||Distribution||Last Reported||Origin||First Reported||Invasive||Reference||Notes|
|Angola||Present, Few occurrences|
|Botswana||Present, Few occurrences|
|Burundi||Present, Few occurrences|
|Congo, Democratic Republic of the||Present, Few occurrences|
|Eswatini||Present, Few occurrences|
|Ethiopia||Present, Few occurrences|
|Gabon||Present, Few occurrences|
|Guinea||Present, Few occurrences|
|Kenya||Present, Few occurrences|
|Lesotho||Present, Few occurrences|
|Namibia||Present, Few occurrences|
|Rwanda||Present, Few occurrences|
|Somalia||Present, Few occurrences|
|South Africa||Present, Few occurrences|
HabitatTop of page
Hosts/Species AffectedTop of page
Host Plants and Other Plants AffectedTop of page
|Eleusine coracana (finger millet)||Poaceae||Main|
|Gossypium herbaceum (short staple cotton)||Malvaceae||Other|
|Manihot esculenta (cassava)||Euphorbiaceae||Other|
|Nicotiana tabacum (tobacco)||Solanaceae||Other|
|Oryza sativa (rice)||Poaceae||Main|
|Poaceae (grasses)||Poaceae||Wild host|
|Saccharum officinarum (sugarcane)||Poaceae||Main|
|Sorghum bicolor (sorghum)||Poaceae||Main|
|Zea mays (maize)||Poaceae||Main|
Growth StagesTop of page
SymptomsTop of page
List of Symptoms/SignsTop of page
|Fruit / external feeding|
|Fruit / frass visible|
|Inflorescence / external feeding|
|Inflorescence / frass visible|
|Leaves / external feeding|
|Leaves / frass visible|
|Seeds / external feeding|
|Seeds / frass visible|
|Stems / external feeding|
|Stems / visible frass|
|Whole plant / external feeding|
|Whole plant / frass visible|
Biology and EcologyTop of page
Eggs are laid in bare patches of soil between clumps of grass. Gregarious females tend to lay in groups, preferring relatively loose soil. The density of egg pods can be very high: up to 50 per square foot (Smee, 1936). Up to three egg pods can be laid during a female's lifetime. The incubation period is roughly 30 days with a minimum of 18 days (Mozambique, 1937) and a maximum of 54 days (Botha, 1969) mainly depending on the temperature. There are 6-8 hopper (nymphal) instars, solitarious locusts having more instars than gregarious ones. The development periods of the second to fifth instars are much shorter than the other instars. Development from egg to adult usually takes about 2 months, but it can be as short as 37 days in warm areas (Frappa, 1935) and as long as 78 days in cool areas (Lea, 1938). Adults remain immature during the dry season and mature at the onset of the rains. Even in areas without a marked dry season, like south-western Uganda, they mature only after about 6 months (Morstatt, 1912).
In southern Africa, egg laying takes place from November to December (Frappa, 1935; Jack, 1936; Têtefort and Wintrebert, 1965). The first hoppers can appear in December. Many different instars are usually present at the same time because of repeated egg laying. Adults appear between February and May. In the central Niger delta and the Lake Chad basin, adults mature at the beginning of the rainy season between April and June, and egg laying can continue until mid August (Golding, 1934; Saraiva, 1939; Descamps, 1953). Hoppers may be around from July to October. Where the rains continue throughout the year, breeding is continuous, but the species is still univoltine (Morstatt, 1912).
After hatching, the hoppers immediately look for cover. The first two instars do not move around much. They are generally to be found in lower grasses, like Cynodon dactylon and Cyperus spp. (Smee, 1936). Grouping usually starts in the second or third instar. Later instars and adults prefer roosting in tall grasses, like Echinochloa and Sporobolus. They feed mainly on grasses with soft leaves and high water content (Cynodon, Echinochloa, Cyperus). Drying of the vegetation forces late hoppers and adults in increasingly smaller patches of green grass, which encourages gregarisation (Burnett, 1951; Anderson, 1964). Though a good rainy season provides sufficient food for an increasing population, several good seasons in a row do not necessarily cause populations to build up. This is most likely because a more closed vegetation cover provides less opportunity for egg laying. Another reason may be that wetter conditions favour the development of fungal diseases.
Swarm formation is favoured by dry conditions after a few good breeding seasons and is further enhanced by the burning of grass in the dry season (Symmons, 1959). A return to wetter conditions in the outbreak areas reverses the trend to gregarisation. Plagues can last for many years if swarms continue to find good opportunities for laying and hopper survival is good. At the same time, conditions should continue to encourage grouping, which keeps the locusts in the gregarious phase. It seems that an essential condition is the existence of certain 'retention areas', where swarms can survive the dry season without the need for risky migrations (Symmons, 1964). During the last plague, the most important retention areas were from southern Malawi to north-eastern Rhodesia and west of Lake Victoria and into Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Indications are that it is adverse weather conditions that put an end to plagues, rather than control measures, though the latter may decrease their impact.
Natural enemiesTop of page
|Natural enemy||Type||Life stages||Specificity||References||Biological control in||Biological control on|
|Entomophaga grylli||Pathogen||Adults; Arthropods|Nymphs|
|Metacemyia calloti||Parasite||Adults; Arthropods|Nymphs|
|Metarhizium anisopliae var. acridum||Pathogen||Adults; Arthropods|Nymphs|
|Podapolipus elongatus||Parasite||Adults; Arthropods|Nymphs|
Notes on Natural EnemiesTop of page
There is only one group of parasitoids of grasshopper eggs: the Scelionidae (Hymenoptera). Three species are known to parasitize the eggs of N. septemfasciata. Eggs further fall prey to predators. Specialised predators are Stomorhina lunata and species of Anastoechus. It is likely that Systoechus spp. attack Nomadacris eggs as well, but no records are available. Among beetle larvae, those of some species of Mylabris (Meloidae) apparently specialise on grasshopper eggs. Most other predators seem to be generalists or occasional predators.
Two specialised parasitoids are known from N. septemfasciata: the dipterans S. lunata (Sarcophagidae) and Metacemyia calloti (Tachinidae). Predators of locusts are all considered opportunists, with the possible exception of some sphecid wasps, especially the genus Prionyx. No records are available on Prionyx spp. taking Nomadacris as prey. Species of herons and storks, especially the Abdim's stork, Ciconia abdimii, appear to concentrate on locusts and grasshoppers when these are abundant. Most other predators become interested only when hopper bands and swarms are present.
Pathogens of locusts include viruses, bacteria and fungi. Records of viruses and bacteria from N. septemfasciata are not available. However, the fungi Entomophthora grylli, Beauveria bassiana and Metarhizium anisopliae are known to infect red locust. Finally, unidentified nematodes (probably Mermis spp.) are often found parasitizing both hoppers and adults.
The importance of natural enemies in regulating red locust populations is still being debated. It is however clear that they can not always prevent outbreaks and plagues. Few detailed studies have been conducted. Stortenbecker (1967) claims that very high hopper mortalities (60-90%) were caused in the Rukwa Valley by robber-flies (Asilidae) and dragonflies.
ImpactTop of page
Detection and InspectionTop of page
Similarities to Other Species/ConditionsTop of page
Two other sympatric species can easily be confused with N. septemfasciata: Cyrtacanthacris tatarica and C. aeruginosa. Especially the first of these species is superficially similar because it also has oblique fasciae on its tegmina. However, both species have colourless wings or they are tinted yellow at the base. The male cerci are slender and pointed.
Other large locusts that often have reddish to purplish wing bases, are the tree locusts (Anacridium spp.). They can be distinguished by their black antennae, black fascia on the wings (very faint in A. melanorhodon melanorhodon) and the male subgenital plate having three lobes. The desert locust, Schistocerca gregaria, is not usually found in the same areas as the red locust. It has no fasciae on its tegmina and its wings have no red. The two remaining sympatric locust species, the migratory locust Locusta migratoria and the brown locust Locustana pardalina, are smaller than the red locust. They belong to the subfamily Oedipodinae, which lacks the prosternal peg of the Cyrtacanthacridinae.
Prevention and ControlTop of page
Due to the variable regulations around (de)registration of pesticides, your national list of registered pesticides or relevant authority should be consulted to determine which products are legally allowed for use in your country when considering chemical control. Pesticides should always be used in a lawful manner, consistent with the product's label.
Fenitrothion has became the favoured product for swarm control because of its quick action. When the importance of the outbreak areas was recognized, it was decided in 1941 to establish the International Red Locust Control Service. Its successor, the International Red Locust Control Organization for Central and Southern Africa (IRLCO-CSA), is now responsible for the co-ordination of control efforts.
When previously used chemicals were banned in the 1980s, no good insecticide was available for hopper control. Organophosphates and the more recent pyrethroids are not as persistent have therefore to be applied repeatedly as blanket sprays. The latest insecticide on the locust control market, fipronil, is probably not acceptable for the control of red locust in its outbreak areas because of its high toxicity to fish and aquatic invertebrates. Insect growth regulators, like diflubenzuron and teflubenzuron, might have some potential but have not yet been used against red locust.
Several forms of ecological control have been tried. It was hoped that the introduction of cattle ranging would reduce the tall grasses favoured by red locust. However, it turned out to be difficult to make this commercially viable. Another idea was to control the burning of grass by the local inhabitants at the end of the dry season to reduce the number of bare patches where the locusts prefer to lay eggs. This proved costly and almost impossible to enforce. Tree planting trials failed, because most trees did not survive in this environment of highly variable water levels. Finally, an idea was investigated to control the water level of Mweru wa Ntipa, but it was considered to be too expensive (COPR, 1982).
Though many natural enemies have been recognized for a long time, none was ever considered effective enough to be used for control purposes. One attempt at biological control was the mass production and distribution of Beauveria bassiana in South Africa. The product failed to work and a subsequent investigation into the cause revealed that it contained mainly a saprophytic fungus instead of B. bassiana. Confidence in the product had disappeared and no new attempt was made. On Mauritius and Réunion, red locust populations have apparently been brought under control by the introduction of the Indian mynah bird, Acridotheres tristis, though the bird has become mainly frugivorous on Réunion (Bordage, 1913).
Recently, a new biological product has been developed by the LUBILOSA programme of CABI, IITA, GTZ and CILSS (Lomer et al., 1997a, b). Based on the fungus Metarhizium anisopliae var. acridum (previously identified as M. flavoviride), it was initially targeted for use against the desert locust, Schistocerca gregaria. During its development, it became clear that the fungus could infect most members of the superfamily Acridoidea (short-horned grasshoppers). In fact, it turned out to be almost totally specific to this group. It appears to be safe for humans and other vertebrates, and though it can infect other species of insects when these are under stress, no infections have been noted at recommended doses under (semi-)field conditions. Tests in the laboratory and on a small scale in the field have confirmed its infectivity to N. septemfasciata (Price et al., 1998). The product looks very promising, since the wet habitat of the red locust favours the development of fungi. Its slow mode of action (2-3 weeks) is no problem when applied against hoppers in the outbreak areas, because there, they do not attack crops. Large-scale trials are being planned.
ReferencesTop of page
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