species of the week # 54 -migratory locust

The migratory locus is one of the largest short-feathered grasshoppers in Central Europe. The individuals can be green, brown or gray in color. The transparent forewings are nearly twice as long as the hind legs and dark spotted.

Distribution status Extinct in Germany
Remaining deposits Southern and Eastern Europe
Letzte Sighting in Rhineland-Palatinate before 1941
Habitat Vegetation-poor banks, floodplains, sandy areas and dry grasslands, partly on artificial meadows, e.g. golf courses.
Threat of River straightening, drainage, intensive agriculture

The migratory locus is divided into two phases: the sedentary phase and the migratory phase. A migratory phase occurs when environmental conditions are unfavorable and population densities are high. The migratory animals are always gray to brownish in color. Breeding animals, which can be bought as food for terrarium animals, correspond to this migratory phase.

In the sedentary phase, animals remain true to their location for years with constant and relatively low populations. In the migratory phase, which is called “gregaria”, the animals eat everything that comes in their way, destroying whole areas and their flora. They enter the migratory phase whenever they find too little food. The feared swarms quickly overwhelm entire regions, as is currently the case in Africa. This is a subspecies of the migratory locust, which does not occur in Europe itself. The european migratory locust,  is still widespread in southern Europe and southernmost Central Europe, but is considered extinct in Germany. It is also found in parts of North Africa, Macronesia, and parts of Asia.

The migratory locus males produce a loud, rattling sound during spontaneous flights that can be heard a good 50 meters away.

Destruction of extensive floodplain areas and encroachment on natural river courses have largely destroyed migratory grasshopper habitats in Europe. The species is also not very common in the Mediterranean region.

With the intensification of agriculture, drainage and large-scale river corrections, most populations have become extinct. For Germany, the last observations date from between 1940 and 1950.

Politicy need:

  • Financial support for Africa
  • Stabilization of African ecosystems to keep populations in the sedentary phase
  • Stabilization of European ecosystems

Image: by Quartl – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11087112

To the other species of the week