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The prevention of plagues of the red locust nomadacris septemfasciata


, : The prevention of plagues of the red locust nomadacris septemfasciata. Acrida 7(1): 55-78

In recent years the number of areas known to be capable of producing swarms of the red locust, N. septemfasciata, from an indigenous non-swarming population has increased, while the ability of the control organization to prevent swarms escaping has declined. This paper reviews the characteristics of the outbreak areas and examines the situations in which swarm escape is most likely to lead to a plague. There appears to be no way in which a potential outbreak area can be recognized on ecological grounds but the chance of a plague starting from presently unsuspected source is probably small. Some situations in which a known outbreak area can be discounted as a source of swarms in the immediate future can be recognized easily. Whether or not a plague occurs is likely to depend on the number and size of the escaping swarms and their movement, rather than on the weather in the invasion area. This suggests that some of the recognized outbreak areas are more likely than others to start a plague but, on present knowledge, none can be completely discounted. The current strategy of attempting to prevent swarm escape from the recognized outbreak areas is proving difficult to carry out for logistic and political reasons. However, the prerequisites for a strategy of tracking and destroying swarms after they have escaped do not exist over most of the invasion area. A strategy of plague termination by massive control in the major plague breeding areas might well fail and would in any case be more technically and politically difficult than the current outbreak area control policy, and would be likely to cost more. Similar objections apply to a policy of attempting to control the plague in one part of the invasion area only, with the partial exception of South Africa.

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