By Kasha Patel, NASA
A single desert locust (Schistocerca gregaria) can consume its body weight in vegetation in one day. That may not sound like much for one 2.5 g locust, but when 40 million of them gather (considered a small swarm) they can devour as much food as 35 000 people. In one day, a small swarm can jeopardise a farmer’s livelihood.
Since December 2019, croplands in Kenya have been inundated by the voracious insects. By January 2020, at least 70 000 ha of land were infested – Kenya’s worst...
NASA-funded scientists are partnering with the UN and relief organisations to better understand where locusts are likely to swarm. Using remote sensing observations of soil moisture and vegetation, researchers are tracking how environmental conditions influence locust life cycles and hoping to stop outbreaks before they spread.