For thousands of years, locusts, one of about a dozen species of grasshoppers, have caused mankind untold anguish. In Africa, the countries of the Sahel region which include Algeria, Burkina Faso, Chad, Ethiopia, Eritriea, Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Somalia and The Sudan, are particularly susceptible to outbreaks of the desert locust, Schistocerca gregaria. In Madagascar, outbreaks of the gregarious phase of the Malagasy migratory locust, Locusta migratoria capito, are a recurring problem and a major threat to agriculture.
The commonly-used control methods for locust outbreaks, which are based on the use of synthetic insecticides, are extremely costly. In addition, the large amounts of non-specific toxicants that are sprayed over affected areas pollute the environment and threaten the biodiversity.
icipe’s overall objective has been to develop components of a preventive, eco-friendly and cost-effective locust control system, based on benign, bio-rational, semiochemical-based control tools and tactics.