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Early Intervention against Desert Locusts: Current Proactive Approach and the Prospect of Sustainable Outbreak Prevention

Abstract : The desert locust, Schistocerca gregaria (Forskål) (Orthoptera: Acrididae), a major Old World pest, is associated with agricultural losses and undesirable societal effects. There are three broad approaches to its control: reaction, proaction, and outbreak prevention. Reaction protects crops from swarms but it is costly and disruptive. Proaction involves early intervention during outbreaks to avert further development to plague status; it is in current use because it is effective, relatively inexpensive, and it is the best available option for now. Outbreak prevention, largely unavailable since the 1970s, at least on a regional scale, will require highly sensitive surveillance to detect the onset of gregarization. Sufficiently early intervention can, hypothetically, extend desert locust recession indefinitely. While research on desert locust biology and behavior is, almost, no longer an urgent requirement to improve the efficacy of control, new priorities have arisen for developing outbreak prevention capability (and for enhancing proaction). Salient needs presently include long residual tactics for prophylactic (preventive) control in breeding areas, intervention thresholds, and improved, sustainable coordination among stakeholders at national, regional, and international levels. The most recent desert locust episode of 2020 provides an illustrative example of how prevention might have averted the entire upsurge, and how proaction in some countries contained the spread of swarms. The initial outbreak in Saudi Arabia escaped control due to unpreparedness, and impacts of armed conflict in Somalia and Yemen, which weakened surveillance and control, further contributed to the invasion of ≥22 countries, and the spraying of ≈4.9 million ha, by the end of 2020.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, May 25, 2021 - 10:46:51 AM
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Allan Showler, Mohammed Abdallahi Ould Babah Ebbe, Michel Lecoq, Koutaro Maeno. Early Intervention against Desert Locusts: Current Proactive Approach and the Prospect of Sustainable Outbreak Prevention. Agronomy, MDPI, 2021, 11 (2), pp.312. ⟨10.3390/agronomy11020312⟩. ⟨hal-03231894⟩



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