THE BIG PROBLEM with the current locust infestation in Namaqualand, the Bushmanland and the Karoo is that action is taken too late.
Speaking is Dr Gerhard Verdoorn, operations and stewardship manager at CropLife SA, who already has 40 years of experience in dealing with locust pests. He thinks sprin- canes must be controlled in the pedestrian phase when they walk for seven to ten days before they start flying.
Grasshoppers can be controlled without commercial pesticides. Dr Verdoorn suggests that a herd of animals be left the pedestrians are chased or branches are tied to a vehicle and dragged over them. It injures the pedestrians to such an extent that they don’t start flying.
United Nations office in Geneva, Switzerland, has calculated that even a tiny swarm of locusts can eat as much food as 35,000 people in a single day can feed It is therefore obvious that locusts must be controlled. Once the locusts start flying, it becomes more difficult to control them. Flocks are usually sprayed early in the morning before they start flying or in the evening when they settle down. “If locusts are sprayed while they are in the air, not only is pesticide wasted, but the environment is also poisoned,” he says. Eggs can survive in the soil for as long as three years in favorable conditions.
Dr Verdoorn advises farmers to keep an eye on the atmospheric climate. When the day/night average reaches 16˚C and soil moisture is high, the locusts usually start to hatch. In favorable circumstances, the female lays 300 eggs at a time every few weeks, which contributes to the vicious cycle. He thinks there is a good chance that the next brood can make their appearance by the end of August.
Dr Verdoorn warns producers to be on the lookout for locusts, to be on the lookout for locusts hatching so that the necessary measures can be taken in time. “It is everyone’s duty to report such appearances without delay”