Friday, April 26, 2024

Scientists find chemical that stops locust cannibalism

Locusts are generally solitary creatures. However, when their population density skyrockets due to heavy rainfall and good breeding conditions, followed immediately by an increase in food scarcity, a hormonal rush causes them to swarm and become aggressive.  Fear of cannibalism drives the swam forward in one direction, as stopping will cause them to be eaten by the individual behind them.

In an experiment, scientists discovered there are specific scents produced exclusively during this hormonal phase, one of which repels other locusts, preventing them from being cannibalized. They believe this finding could be used in future methods of locust control, steering them away from farmland and crops.

This article really caught my eye. We have all heard of the horror caused by swarms of locusts, but I don't think we really think about why the locusts exhibit this behavior. The idea of them fearing being cannibalized as what drives the swarm is both horrifying and somewhat funny, albeit in a weird way. I do think it's incredible, however, that we now potentially have a way to prevent swarms of locusts from destroying food that could be feeding starving communities. What an interesting discovery!

Article: Scientists find chemical that stops locust cannibalism

Additional Information: A chemical defense deters cannibalism in migratory locusts


  1. I find this article incredibly intriguing! The development of locusts from solitary into aggregating creatures is a topic I have explored in my entomological studies. It is very fascinating to see that we have discovered the specific hormonal triggers which cause instinctual fear within the swarm. Thanks for sharing!!

  2. This was very interesting to read about. I never knew that locusts exhibited this kind of behavior. I do wondering how farmers may use the scent released during the hormonal phase to steer them away from crops. Would this be a more natural pesticide and could it cause any change to any other insects farmers may struggle with.