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Locusts destroy crops in 'worst invasion in Sardinia for 60 years' (bbc.com)
28 points by neom 5 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 21 comments





Hope you all remembered to short sesame seed futures.

"Cicadas..."

Joke aside, Italy, Spain and France could get something similar near future

Brown marmorated stinkbugs mentioned in the article are a problem where I live, southeastern US. Somehow they get into the house, then crawl into the light fixtures and die. I always wonder what natural predator is absent when there's an insect pest problem.

Generally the answer to the 'too many bugs' question is always 'not enough birds'. Industrial farming has destroyed most of their habitation, and bird species are in decline almost everywhere [0]. I recently read that insect populations had a brief but rapid population explosion in the post war era due to the decline in bird populations from agricultural habit destruction, until pesticides came about in a big way. So we destroyed the birds habitats, then used pesticides to kill off their main food source (to the point that insect populations have nearly collapsed) [1]. We really went and stuck the knife in as a species.

With insect populations looking to bounce back again with the longer summers and warmer temperatures that the climate crisis is causing, I certainly hope bird populations make a come back with it or we're, excuse the pun, buggered.

[0] https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2018/09/embark-d... [1] https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/feb/10/plummeti...


Apparently in Asia it has a natural predator, the awesomely named samurai wasp. It's a tiny parasitic wasp that lays their eggs in stinkbugs.

https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/08/scientists-spent-yea...


Parisitic wasps are some of my favorite insects to learn about as long as they aren't doing any mind control tricks on their hosts.

My favorite is the Megaphragma mymaripenne[1], the adults are said to have reduced the size of 95% of their neuron cells by getting rid of the nucleus.

[1]http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/notrocketscience/2011/11/3...


Honourable mention for the microscopic trichogramma wasp, eater of clothes moth larvae. The Natural History Museum deployed them a few years back to deal with a moth outbreak. Supposedly the most successful way of dealing with an outbreak.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/11682039/When-moths...


I'm scared to ask but why have I never heard about locust plagues in the USA?

North America used to have massive locust swarms back in the 19th century. But...

> The Rocky Mountain locust ranged through the western half of the United States and some western portions of Canada. Sightings often placed their swarms in numbers far larger than any other locust species, with one famous sighting in 1875 estimated at 198,000 square miles (510,000 km2) in size (greater than the area of California), weighing 27.5 million tons and consisting of some 12.5 trillion insects.

> Less than 30 years later, the species was apparently extinct. The last recorded sighting of a live specimen was in 1902 in southern Canada.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rocky_Mountain_locust


I find it fascinating that we dont know how they became extinct. I had originally thought it was simply habitat destruction but that hasn't really be proven at all.

Indeed, some thought it was simply farmers plowing fields or stock grazing, but their origin point were mountain valleys so it doesn't seem their demise would have been as rapid as it actually was.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DqyCO1eVC68&t=26m38s


There's a reason that the Utah state bird is Larus californicus, the California seagull, and a huge statue of it graces Salt Lake City's Temple Square.

https://www.standard.net/news/local/not-since-the-bingeing-p...

https://onlinelibrary.utah.gov/research/utah_symbols/bird.ht...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seagull_Monument


From Wikipedia[0]:

> North America is currently the only continent besides Antarctica without a native locust species.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Locust


Because we accidentally exterminated the Rocky Mountain locusts[0].

[0] Minute Earth - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aQ804ztWPNs


We don’t have locusts but down here in the southeast US we have cicadas every dozen or so years.

In fact Cicadas emerge on 7, 13 and 17 year periods.

The theory for this 'prime number' periodic cycle is quite interesting: https://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2001/11/27/421251.ht...


Thank you, that is fascinating, as is the postscript.

Grasshoppers are pretty nutritious, and didn't the UN want people to use more micro-livestock? Instead of spraying poison everywhere, develop a new market.

Perhaps not everyone, especially Italians, actually want to eat insects

Lobster and shrimp were considered garbage, bottom-feeding poverty food at one time. Let fashion and marketing work their magic.



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