Pest Control: Locusts For Lunch, Dollars or Pesticides?


Migratory locusts have come a long way from centuries of devouring farmlands and causing hunger across continents to the menu list of many plagued communities who have been forced by necessity to eat them up. The consumption of locusts has spawned a lucrative trade that is more profitable than farm harvests. Their nutritional value also makes them attractive supplements or alternatives to protein foods.  From breaded locusts to crunchy fried locusts, locusts are getting a taste of the voracious appetite of people that may soon curb their legendary pestilence with increase in commercial farming and harvesting of locusts.

This has become an innovative strategy for the control of these ravaging pests which have overwhelmed other methods.  A typical swarm can have billions of insects, consuming thousands of tonnes of farm crops enough to feed millions of people daily in plagues that cover about 20% of the earth mainly in Africa, Middle East, South America and Asia.  Authorities have been combating them with insecticides sprayed from airplanes in a slow, expensive and environmentally hazardous process that also endangers human lives by contamination of food. The locusts have also developed resistance to pesticides.

Inexplicably, the Food and Agriculture Organization(FAO)leading the world’s response initiatives to the locusts plagues appears disinterested in the growing popularity of cheaper and more eco-friendly mass consumption of locusts for food and animal feeds.  It continues with the ineffectual aerial spraying, illions of dollars annually go to pesticides companies.

Prof. Arnold van Huis, leading advocate for eating insects has been advising the FAO. It is yet to be seen if the human hunger which is gobbling the hunger of locusts can devour the hunger of the world’s pesticide industry.