Insecticide Use against Desert Locust in the Horn of Africa 2019–2021 Reveals a Pressing Need for Change
- What changes in the choice of insecticides have been made as compared to previous DL campaigns? What are the differences in insecticide choice among the three countries between August 2019 and December 2021?
- Which environmental side-effects were observed, and how were these impacts assessed?
- How could the control of DL populations, dominated by chemical insecticides, be replaced by biological management using M. acridum and other nature-based solutions, in particular, predators such as locust-eating birds?
2. Materials and Methods
3. Results and Discussion
3.1. Historical Review: The 1986–1989 Plague and the 2003–2005 Upsurge
- The establishment of an independent group of scientists, the PRG, whose role was to advise the FAO on efficacy trials and the choice of insecticides having the least environmental and human health impact;
- A multi-compartment pilot study to quantitatively assess environmental side-effects of the insecticides fenitrothion, chlorpyrifos and diflubenzuron  and the subsequent establishment of the Locustox Project (later CERES/Locustox Foundation), which conducted research into the environmental and human health effects of locust control insecticides in West Africa , and;
- A consortium called LUBILOSA (Lutte Biologique contre les Locustes et Sauteriaux) was formed to develop a mycoinsecticide, which was selective towards acridids (locusts and grasshoppers) .
3.1.1. Protection of Environmental and Human Health and Relevant Regulations
- The Desert Locust Guideline 6: Safety and Environmental Precautions  (currently under revision);
- The Manual for the Implementation of Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS) Standards for the Control of Locusts , which was based on the Commission for Controlling the Desert Locust in the Western Region (of the DL distribution area) “Cahier des charges environnementales” but was only published after the 2019–2021 upsurge.
3.1.2. Locust Insecticides and International Registration
“Although chlorpyrifos has been phased out in the Union, it appears that it is still used as a pesticide and dispersed in the environment outside the Union. Due to the potential for long-range environmental transport of chlorpyrifos, the measures taken nationally or at Union level are not sufficient to safeguard the high level of protection of the environment and human health. Wider international action is therefore necessary”.
3.2. The 2019–2021 DL Campaign in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia
3.2.1. Environmental Monitoring in Kenya and Ethiopia
3.2.2. Pollinators and Apiculture
3.2.3. The Case for M. acridum—An Alternative Agent in Locust Control
3.3. Bird Predation and M. acridum: Towards a Novel Approach in Locust Control
4. Conclusions: The Road to Sustainable Locust Management
Data Availability Statement
Conflicts of Interest
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|Insecticide||Priority||Dose Rate (g a.i./ha) 1||Speed of|
|Primary Mode of Action|
|triflumuron||2||25||75.6||10.7||Slow||Chitin synthesis inhibition|
|teflubenzuron||2||30||n.d.||n.d. 2||Slow||Chitin synthesis inhibition|
|diflubenzuron||2||30||100||14.3||Slow||Chitin synthesis inhibition|
|lambda-cyhalothrin||3||20||-||-||Fast||Na channel blocking|
|deltametrhrin||3||12.5 or 17.5||-||-||Fast||Na channel blocking|
|fipronil||3||-||4.2||0.6||Medium||GABA receptor blocking|
|Issues||Chemical Insecticides Assessed for Efficacy and Side-Effects by PRG (See [10,11] for Details)||M. acridum (Trade Names Green Muscle® and Novacrid®)|
|Legislation and use||Reviewed for efficacy and side-effects by LPRG [10,11] (2014, 2012), widespread registration and use by government agencies to control acridids.||Until 2020, hardly used for locust control (except for in Tanzania and Madagascar) and minor use for grasshopper control in the Sahel despite proven efficacy. Since November 2019, Novacrid® has been registered in nine Sahelian countries (CILSS). Provisional sales authorisations obtained in 2020 in Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia.|
|Speed of action/meteorological dependency||Rapid knockdown and fatality (hours) post-treatment leaving massive quantities of dead and decaying arthropods strengthening confidence of users. Specific windows for wind speeds (drift), rain and temperature (convection) during and post-spray. Efficacy slightly dependent of ambient temperature.||No knock-down, mortality 80–90% in 2–3 weeks post-treatment, undermining confidence of users. Predators and scavengers remove dead and debilitated insects as they become available. Rains during or post-spray have either no impact or may enhance efficacy, ambient daily temperatures need to be sufficiently long between (20)25 and 35(40) °C for optimal efficacy.|
|Persistence||Rapid degradation (days) on vegetation under field conditions. IGRs and fipronil persist longer and are recommended for barrier treatments only. Chlorpyrifos degrades slowly in soil.||Viable spores persist from seven days to two months providing medium-term effect against re-invasion. Subsequent bird predation may keep populations below economic threshold until next rainy season. Other studies found some carry-over effect of viable spores into the next year. Efficacy when used as barrier treatment inconclusive.|
|Stability, use and storage||Formulations well developed with known shelf-lives, storage, transport and use without problems. Some formulations are corrosive for ULV spray equipment or carriers (planes, vehicles). Training of applicators is a prerequisite.||Much shorter development history of formulations. Formulated product may settle on bottom of containers, clogging Micronair® sprayers leading to frequent cleaning/loss of time, some complaints about short shelf-life of formulated product. Dry spores have known shelf-life and can be stored and formulated in situ. Training of applicators is a prerequisite.Does not require other equipment than already in use to apply chemical insecticides.|
|Non-targets||Non-selective. Most kill non-target arthropods including natural enemies, some also birds, reptiles and other vertebrates and/or deprive them of their arthropod prey. Migration of birds from sprayed plots. Fipronil and neonicotinoids are extremely toxic for social insects.||Selective. No negative impact on non-target species, including honeybees, except on other Orthoptera. Numbers of acridivorous birds remain stable or increase post-spray (immigration). Significant increase of Oedaleus senegalensis eggpod parasitation by diptera (Bombyliidae; cf. Systoechus sp.) found at 18.75 and 37.5 g viable spores/ha.|
|Use on locust hopper bands||During large outbreaks and plagues most products (except IGRs and fipronil) are not efficient because of lack of residual action. Therefore, new hatchlings need new treatments, especially as natural enemies may have been reduced by earlier spray.||Very effective and efficient on hoppers, remains infectious during weeks to even months. This way, newly hatched hoppers will be attacked within the infectivity period of M. acridum and by increased natural predation, e.g., by birds.|
|Use on adult locusts and grasshoppers||Widely used for control of acridids under all conditions. Indiscriminate use of chemical insecticides can cause upsurges later in the season or the next year because invertebrate locust egg predators and parasitoids have been killed.||Proven efficacy against adults, can be used in ecologically sensitive areas. First time successful use against (highly mobile) large groups/swarms of adults in Somalia during 2020–2021.|
|Insecticide costs and externalities||Relatively cheap (10–30 USD/L) when supplied through FAO but hidden direct and indirect costs from side-effects (externalities such as reduced pollination, soil contamination or human intoxications not perceived as costs of treatments and hence unmet by society).||Product was available during campaign for FAO at c. 315 USD/kg (15.75 USD/L) excl. diesel fuel as carrier, with no externalities. Therefore “true costs” of biological insecticides are potentially less than economic costs per hectare sprayed of chemical insecticides, without the negative side-effects of the latter.|
|Human toxicity||Slightly to moderately hazardous, sublethal effects and casualties have been reported during campaigns. Should not be sprayed on crops or in the vicinity of human settlements, withholding times apply, killed acridids should not be eaten. Use of PPE compulsory.||Unlikely to present hazard under normal use. Can be sprayed on crops. No withholding time. Use of PPE less stringent, although recommended.|
|Livestock, fisheries and (organic) farming||Slightly to moderately hazardous. Livestock should be removed prior to spraying. Not compatible with organic farming and fisheries. Most products not registered for use on crops. Withholding times and re-entry intervals apply.||Unlikely to present hazard under normal use. No particular safety measures required, although direct spray on livestock should be avoided. Fully compatible with organic farming and fisheries, no withholding times or re-entry intervals.|
|Protected and sensitive areas||Should not be used in protected areas and buffer zones for environmentally sensitive areas, such as wetlands, which limits its use.||Safe to be used in protected areas and near environmentally sensitive areas such as wetlands. No negative impacts of spraying near water bodies known.|
|COUNTRY||STAGE||POPULATION (MILLIONS)||EATEN BY BIRDS (%)||SPECIES||OBSERVATION DAYS||SOURCE|
|ERITREA||adult||tens||4 daily||Aquila sp., Ciconia ciconia, F. biarmicus, Leptoptilos crumenifer, Milvus sp.||few||Smith 1953 |
|ERITREA||1st–5th||15.2||52.6||Milvus sp., Ciconia abdimii, Motacilla sp.||14||Ashall and Ellis 1962 |
|E. AFRICA||adult||up to 5000||0.25–6||all birds||outbreak||Elliott 1962 |
|ERITREA||2nd–adult||4||Oenanthe sp., “kestrels”,||23||Greathead 1966 |
|MAURITANIA||2nd–4th||0.13–0.5||97.5–99.5||Cursorius cursor, Passer luteus, P. simplex, Lanius sp.||4–11||Wilps 1997 |
|MAURITANIA||2nd–4th||1.1||95||Cursorius cursor, Passer luteus, P. simplex, Lanius sp.||4–11||Wilps 1997 |
|MAURITANIA||hoppers||0.02||>75||Cursorius cursor, Passer luteus, P. simplex||-||Culmsee 2002 |
|SUDAN||2nd||12||3 daily, 30–50 in total||Motacilla flava||21||Mullié 2009 |
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Mullié, W.C.; Prakash, A.; Müller, A.; Lazutkaite, E. Insecticide Use against Desert Locust in the Horn of Africa 2019–2021 Reveals a Pressing Need for Change. Agronomy 2023, 13, 819. https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13030819
Mullié WC, Prakash A, Müller A, Lazutkaite E. Insecticide Use against Desert Locust in the Horn of Africa 2019–2021 Reveals a Pressing Need for Change. Agronomy. 2023; 13(3):819. https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13030819Chicago/Turabian Style
Mullié, Wim C., Adam Prakash, Alexander Müller, and Elena Lazutkaite. 2023. "Insecticide Use against Desert Locust in the Horn of Africa 2019–2021 Reveals a Pressing Need for Change" Agronomy 13, no. 3: 819. https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13030819