Locust Attack: Managing and Control Strategies by the Government of Pakistan

A review on Locust Attack in Pakistan


  • Muhammad Usman Department of Entomology, University of the Agriculture, Faisalabad, Pakistan
  • Muhammad Ijaz Department of Entomology, University of the Agriculture, Faisalabad, Pakistan
  • Mariam Aziz Department of Entomology, University of the Agriculture, Faisalabad, Pakistan
  • Muhammad Hassan Department of Entomology, University of the Agriculture, Faisalabad, Pakistan
  • Agha Mushtaque Ahmed Department of Entomology, Faculty of Crop Protection, Sindh Agriculture University, Tandojam, Sindh, Pakistan
  • Din Muhammad Soomro Department of Entomology
  • Saif Ali Institute of Soil and Environmental Sciences, University of the Agriculture, Faisalabad, Pakistan



Crops, Damage, Locust, Management, Pakistan, Ultra-low volume


During outbreaks of Schistocerca gregaria, the desert locust swarms, and plagues known to infest numerous regions across wide areas of Asia and Africa. The locust devours large amounts of crops and rangeland flora. Recently the locust outbreak began in June 2018 in Saudi Arabia’s distant areas and entered in Pakistan March 2019, destroying main crops such as cotton, wheat, rice and maize in many districts across Baluchistan, Punjab, Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces. On February 1, 2020, a national emergency was proclaimed, and the Plant Protection department countered by launching monitoring and prevention activities with the help of other institutions in Pakistan, as well as global and bilateral organizations. Surveillance and control activities were carried out with the majority of the insecticide formulations being oil-based ultra-low volume, nonconventional and green technology approaches. In addition, the Pakistani government devised a comprehensive phase wised management strategy as
well as a National Locust Control Center with fast retort troops deployed in critical areas. Additional surveillance and control measures are needed to stop or alleviate desert locust-related agriculture damages. The unusual characteristics of the desert locust, as well as the size and frequency of swarming events, make developing and implementing IPM measures difficult. The state of prospective integrated measures to control locusts is discussed, as well as proactive and preventive intervention options.


M. Rahaman, O. Saha, N.N. Rakhi, M.K. Chowdhury, P. Sammonds, and A.S.M.M. Kamal. Overlapping of locust swarms with COVID-19 pandemic: a cascading disaster for Africa. Pathogens and Global Health 114(6): 285-286 (2020).

A.T. Showler, and M. Lecoq. Incidence and ramifications of armed conflict in countries with major desert locust breeding areas. Agronomy 11(1): 114 (2021).

A.T. Showler, M.A.O.B. Ebbe, M. Lecoq, and K.O. Maeno. Early intervention against desert locusts: current proactive approach and the prospect of sustainable outbreak prevention. Agronomy 11(2): 312 (2021). 30 Usman et al

I. Khatri. Current locust threats and measures in Pakistan: Department of Entomology, Sindh Agriculture University, Tandojam, Pakistan. Pakistan Journal of Agriculture, Agricultural Engineering and Veterinary Sciences 35(1): 67-71 (2019).

L. Brader, H. Djibo, F.G. Faye, S. Ghaout, M. Lazar, P.N. Luzietoso, and M.A. Ould Babah. Towards a more effective response to desert locusts and their impacts on food security, livelihoods and poverty. Multilateral evaluation of the 2003–05 Desert locust campaign. Food and Agriculture Organisation, Rome (2006).

P. Fontana, R.M. Perez, S.S. Urban, and D.A. Woller. Studies in Mexican Grasshoppers: Three new species of Dactylotini (Acrididae: Melanoplinae) from Mexico and a review of existing conspecifics with comments on their geographical distributions. Zootaxa 4337(3): 301-343 (2017).

L.V. Bennett. Development of a desert locust plague. Nature 256(5517): 486-487 (1975).

S.J. Simpson, and E.A. Bernays. The regulation of feeding: locusts and blowflies are not so different from mammals. Appetite 4(4): 313-346 (1983).

D. Cui, X. Tu, H.A.O. Kun, A. Raza, C.H.E.N. Jun, M. McNeill, and Z. Zhang. Identification of diapause-associated proteins in migratory locust, Locusta migratoria L. (Orthoptera: Acridoidea) by label-free quantification analysis. Journal of Integrative Agriculture 18(11): 2579-2588 (2019).

S. Veran, S.J. Simpson, G.A. Sword, E. Deveson, S. Piry, J.E. Hines, and K. Berthier. Modeling spatiotemporal dynamics of outbreaking species: influence of environment and migration in a locust. Ecology 96(3): 737-748 (2015).

D. Sharp. Hearts and minds, from Darfur to locusts. Lancet (London, England), 364(9447): 1741-1742 (2004).

M.L. Anstey, S.M. Rogers, S.R. Ott, M. Burrows, and S.J. Simpson. Serotonin mediates behavioral gregarization underlying swarm formation in desert locusts. Science, 323(5914): 627-630 (2009).

P.N.R. Usherwood, and H. Grundfest. Inhibitory postsynaptic potentials in grasshopper muscle. Science 143(3608): 817-818 (1994).

J.A. Munro, and S. Saugstad. A measure of the flight capacity of grasshoppers. Science 88(2290): 473- 474 (1938).

R. Zheng, Y. Xia, and N.O. Keyhani. Sex-specific variation in the antennal proteome of the migratory locust. J. Proteomics 216:103681. Journal of Proteomics, 216: 103681 (2020).

X. Yang, K. Zhang, J. Wang, H. Jia, L. Ma, Y. Li, and J. Duan. Assessment of genetic diversity and chemical composition among seven black locust populations from Northern China. Biochemical Systematics and Ecology, 90: 104010 (2020).

S.K. Aryal, D. Lu, K. Le, L. Allison, C. Gerke, and A.R. Dillman. Sand crickets (Gryllus firmus) have low susceptibility to entomopathogenic nematodes and their pathogenic bacteria. Journal of invertebrate pathology, 160, 54-60 (2019).

P.E. Gay. M. Lecoq, and C. Piou. Improving preventive locust management: insights from a multi-agent model. Pest management science 74(1): 46-58 (2018).

C.N. Meynard, P.E. Gay, M. Lecoq, A. Foucart, C. Piou, and M.P. Chapuis. Climate-driven geographic distribution of the desert locust during recession periods: subspecies’ niche differentiation and relative risks under scenarios of climate change. Global Change Biology 23(11): 4739-4749 (2017).

Y. Wang, M. Wu, P. Lin, Y. Wang, A. Chen, Y. Jiang, B. Zhai, J.W. Chapman, and G. Hu. Plagues of desert locusts: very low invasion risk to China. Insects 11(9): 628 (2020).

L. Wang, W. Zhuo, Z. Pei, X. Tong, W. Han, and S. Fang. Using long-term earth observation data to reveal the factors contributing to the early 2020 desert locust upsurge and the resulting vegetation loss. Remote Sensing 13(4): 680 (2021).

A.T. Showler. Locust (Orthoptera: Acrididae) outbreak in Africa and Asia, 1992–1994: an overview. American Entomologist, 41(3): 179-185 (1995b).

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). General Situation during January 2020 and forecast until mid-March. Desert Locust Bull. No. 496, FAO: Rome, Italy, (2020d)

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Desert locust situation in Pakistan: locust surveillance and control operations and situation analysis. Desert Locust Bull. No. 510, FAO, Rome, Italy, (2020c).

B. Tong. The Causes and Solutions Towards the Increasing Locusts Plague in Pakistan. In E3S Web of Conferences (Vol. 228, p. 02002). EDP Sciences (2021).

E. Kalair, N. Abas, and N.K. Comsats. Climate Change Stimulates Locust Plague. (2020).

H. Bag, and L. Bhoi. Desert locust and climate change: a risk for agriculture. Biotica Research A review on Locust Attack in Pakistan 31 Today 2(8): 802-804. (2020).

A. Ahmed. Locusts may reinvade Thar, Cholistan: minister. Relief Web, (2020).

F. Safdar, M.F. Khokhar, M. Arshad, and I.H. Adil. Climate change indicators and spatiotemporal shift in monsoon patterns in Pakistan. Advances in Meteorology, 1-14 (2019).

A. Imran, Swarms of desert locusts swoop down on Karachi. Dawn News, (2019).

A. Ahmed. Dawn News. As swarms of desert locust descend upon Karachi, ministry says species pose no risk to food supply, (2019).

International Rescue Committee. Almost five million people at risk of hunger and famine as swarms of desert locusts destroy crops across East Africa. (2020).

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Desert Locust. Desert Locust Bull. No. 414, FAO, Rome, Italy, (2021).

Inyatullah. Locusts may inflict heavy losses on agriculture in summer: Expert, (2020).

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Desert locust bulletin, No. 499, FAO, Rome, Italy, (2020a).

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Desert locust bulletin, No. 500, FAO, Rome, Italy, (2020b).

A. Javad. Agriculture in budget 2020-21. Daily Times, (2021).

M.S. Sharifzadeh, G. Abdollahzadeh, C.A. Damalas, and R. Rezaei. Farmers’ criteria for pesticide selection and use in the pest control process. Agriculture 8(2) 24 (2018).

I. Ishaaya, and A.R. Horowitz. Insecticides with novel modes of action: an overview. Insecticides with novel modes of action, 1-24 (1998).

I. Ishaaya, and A. R. Horwitz. Novaluron, a novel IGR: its biological activity and importance in IPM programs. Second Israel-Japan workshop: ecologically sound new plant protection, Tokyo, Japan, September 1-6, 2001. Phytoparasitica 30, 203 (2002).

F. Zhu, L. Lavine, S.O. Neal, M. Lavine, C. Foss, and D. Walsh. Insecticide resistance and management strategies in urban ecosystems. Insects 7(1): 2 (2016).

A.T. Showler, W.D. Swearingen, and A. Bencherifa. Desert locust control, public health, and environmental sustainability in North Africa. The North African Environment at Risk. Westview Press, Boulder, CO, 217-239 (1995a).

L. Zhang, M. Lecoq, A. Latchininsky, and D. Hunter. Locust and grasshopper management. Annual review of entomology 64: 15-34 (2019).

G.A. Sword, M. Lecoq, and S.J. Simpson. Phase polyphenism and preventive locust management. Journal of Insect Physiology 56(8): 949-957 (2010).

S. Cisse, S. Ghaout, A. Mazib, M.O.A. Babah, S. Benahi, and C. Piou. Effect of vegetation on density threshold of adult desert locust gregarization from survey data in Mauritania. Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata 149 (2): 159-165 (2013).

C. Piou, M.H.J. Bacar, M.A.O. Babah, J. Chiharane, S. Ghaout, S. Cisse, M. lecoq, and T.B. Halima. Mapping spatiotemporal distributions of the desert locust in Mauritania and Morocco to improve preventive management. Basic Applied Ecology, 25, 37-47 (2017).

K.O. Maeno, S.O. Ely, S.O. Mohamed, M.E.H. Jaavar, S. Nakamura, and M.O.A. Babah. Defense tactics cycle with diel microhabitat choice and body temperature in the desert locust, Schistocerca gregaria. Ethology 125(4): 250-261 (2019).

M.J. He, and P. Du. Field efficacy test of 2% thiametholine microcapsule suspension for locust control Rur. Science Technology (4): 38-39 (2013).

W.H. Dakhel, A.V. Latchininsky, and S.T. Jaronski. Efficacy of two entomopathogenic fungi, Metarhizium brunneum, strain F52 alone and combined with Paranosema locustae against the migratory grasshopper, Melanoplus sanguinipes, under laboratory and greenhouse conditions. Insects 10(4): 94 (2019).

D. Sharmila, Locust swarms in east Africa could be “a catastrophe”. The Lancet 395(10224): 547 (2020).

H.A. Van, K. Cressman, and J.I. Magor. Preventing desert locust plagues: optimizing management interventions. Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata 122(3): 191-214 (2007).

J.D. Woodman. Effects of substrate salinity on oviposition, embryonic development and survival in the Australian plague locust, Chortoicetes terminifera (Walker). Journal of insect physiology, 96: 9-13 (2017).

Y. Zhou. Occurrence and control of locusts in dongfang city, hainan province, 2018. Henan. Agriculture (14): 24-27 (2019).

J.W. Wang. The main causes of locust disaster and its comprehensive control technology Pesticide market information, 43 (2011).

Z.J. Wang. On the control methods of grasshopper in ancient China. Agriculture Archaeology, (4): 204- 206 (2012).

Y.P. Zhao. A comparative study on the response of China and the United States to locust disasters in the 19th century. J. Guangxi Univ. National: Philosophy Social Science 35(3): 125-130 (2013).

C.N. Meynard, M. Lecoq, M. Chapuis, and C. Piou. On the relative role of climate change and management in the current desert locust outbreak in East Africa. Global Change Biology 26(7):3753- 3755 (2020).

L. Wang, and Q. Zhou. Nepenthes pitchers: surface structure, physical property, anti-attachment function and potential application in mechanical controlling plague locust. Chinese Science Bulletin 59(21): 2513-2523 (2014).

A.V. Latchininsky. Locusts and remote sensing: a review. Journal of Applied Remote Sensing 7(1): 075099 (2013). 60. R. Antoaneta. Why gigantic locust swarms are challenging governments and researchers. Nature 579(7798): 330-331 (2020).

A.T. Showler. "Proaction: strategic framework for today’s reality." In New strategies in locust control, Birkhäuser Basel, 461-465 (1997).

W. Peng, N.L. Ma, D. Zhang, Q. Zhou, X. Yue, S.C. Khoo, H. Yang, R. Guan, H. Chen, X. Zhang, and Y. Wang. A review of historical and recent locust outbreaks: links to global warming, food security and mitigation strategies. Environmental research, 191, 110046 (2020).

M. Ashraf. Locust control: potential challenges and solutions. Dawn News, (2020).

M. Hussain, A. R. Butt, F. Uzma, R. Ahmed, S. Irshad, A. Rehman, and B. Yousaf. A comprehensive review of climate change impacts, adaptation, and mitigation on environmental and natural calamities in Pakistan. Environmental monitoring and assessment 192(1): 1-20 (2020).




How to Cite

Muhammad Usman, Muhammad Ijaz, Mariam Aziz, Muhammad Hassan, Ahmed, A. M. ., Din Muhammad Soomro, & Saif Ali. (2022). Locust Attack: Managing and Control Strategies by the Government of Pakistan: A review on Locust Attack in Pakistan. Proceedings of the Pakistan Academy of Sciences: Part B (Life and Environmental Sciences), 59(2), 25–33.