What is a Locust?
Locusts represent an informal grouping of grasshoppers with certain characteristics. Of the estimated 6,800 species of grasshoppers in the family Acrididae globally, only about 19 have the capability of becoming locusts (Song 2011; Cigliano et al. 2018). Locusts are typically differentiated from grasshoppers by the following characteristics (Pener 1983):
- Locusts are polyphenic (multiple, discrete phenotypes can arise from a single genome): locusts living on their own or at low population densities differ in many characteristics from those living in groups.
- Locusts form dense migrating groups as bands of juveniles (nymphs) and/or swarms of adults.
Locusts are typically considered “gregarious” when living in swarms, or “solitarious” when living alone.