The Loh Down On Science

Day of the Locust

Scientists learn the ugly truth about locust plagues.

And you thought locusts were vegetarians!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with The Loh Down on Science

and with the ugly truth about desert locusts.

For millenia, locust plagues--literally billions of rampaging insects--have chomped crops, affecting the food supply of a tenth of the world's population.

But there's an even darker story.

Or so say researchers from Princeton, Oxford, and Sydney Universities. They've found the forward hopping motion of locust bands is caused by locusts biting each other from behind.

Front locust feels a nip, leaps forward to escape, while biting the locust in front of him, and so on. . . until you've got a bug-eat-bug, Million-Locust March.

The team numbed the abdomens of some locusts, so they couldn't feel the bites, and blocked the sight of others, so they couldn't seeing their chums coming up from behind.

Locust marching was reduced--and a lot more bugs got eaten! Science isn't always pretty.

The study may help prevent locust outbreaks, save the world's harvests, and locust lives, and launch a whole new genre of insect-on-insect horror cannibal movie! Can't wait.


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