Desert locusts are commonly defined as a migratory, or Schistocerca gregaria. These insects have caused great havoc, to an extent of almost crippling agriculture in Africa, Mid east, and Asia for a number of centuries. Technically, the desert locust is the most voracious and the potentially lethal of all the locust pests. This is linked to the ability of its swarms to fly rapidly and swiftly across great distances. From a more environmental approach, it is established that it has two or five generations annually. For instance, in 2004 drought experienced in West Africa was principally caused by the massive infestation of the desert locusts, which affected food security in the area. Desert locusts contribute much to deadly droughts that are quite common in Africa and Asian nations. Naturally, desert locusts are known to be secluded, which is normally interrupted by rainfall, where vegetation prompts the female to lay eggs in the sandy soil. Therefore, it can be noted that the vegetation provides food and shelter for the hatched locusts. Habitually, when the nymphs congregate to feed, the close physical contact makes the insects hind legs to touch one another; hence this action ignites a plethora of metabolic and behavioral changes. It is from this action that, the desert locust evolves from being a solitary insect and forms the gregarious unit. This genesis gives the locust new characteristics, which affects their physical dimension and structure, hence their bodies get shorter, color changes from green to yellow, while the adults adopt color yellow. Normally, what bonds them together is a chemical which they give off known as pheromone, and this highly contributes to swarm formation for it makes the desert locusts to cluster together. To understand this phenomenon of swarm forming in desert locusts (Schistocerca gregaria), various studies have been carried out. For instance, the report below is from a research carried out by a particular institute.
Experimental Methods (Procedure)
Experiments were carried out on the final nymphal-instar of desert locusts, Schistocerca Gregaria picked from the gregarious and solitarious colonies in the Department Of Zoology at the University of Oxford, UK. Gregarious stage locusts were reared in large plastic bins (56 cm × 76 cm × 60 cm) containing 450–1000 insects per bin. Satellite were preserved under a 12:12 light/dark photo system at 30 ± 2°C and on a diet of fresh greenhouse-grown wheat seedlings and wheat germ (Michael, et al 323). Serotonin 5-hydroxytryptamine, 5HT) was quantified in extracts of thoracic ganglia by Reverse-phase high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) and electrochemical exposure. The frozen locust was placed on an ice cooled slab. The thoracic ganglia were dissected out and placed in a 100 ?l microhomogenizer holding 50 ?l of ice-cold 0.15 M perchloric acid and homogenized for 3 min on ice. The homogenate was transferred to 1.5 ml Eppendorf tubes the supernatant was Isocratic HPLC system comprising a M480, a C18 reversed phase column Heated at 35°C (Phenomenex, 3 ?m Sphere Clone, 15 cm length × 2.0 mm inner.
Locusts were injected with explicit chemicals that wedge the performances of serotonin on its receptors, when these desert locusts were uncovered to the same gregarizing stimuli; they did not turn into gregarious. Second, chemicals that block the creation of serotonin had the similar consequences. Also, when infused with serotonin or chemicals that resemble serotonin, locusts evolved to be gregarious still in the deficiency of other locusts. Finally, chemicals that increased the natural synthesis of serotonin enhanced gregarization when locusts were exposed to the tickling stimuli. This indicates that it is the synthesis of serotonin that is driven by these specific stimuli that in turn changes the behavior. Desert locusts, can be said to form swarms due to the effect of high levels of serotonin. The laboratory research established that, this chemical had transformative effects on the locust’s social behavior. It is due to this behavioral change that pools them together creating what we normally call locust swarms, which migrate or move in swarms holding millions of locusts feeding on everything. The studies also had a pointer on the future of agriculture; the laboratory tests opened a new avenue, which can be employed to control pests biologically. Therefore, the studies helped to establish that, a raise in the chemical serotonin in particular parts of the insects’ nervous system as initiating the key changes in behavior that cause them to swarm.
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