The first time I saw a Locust this year was at the top of the "Nohoch Mul" structure in Coba around 3 weeks ago. With their size and strong colors they called our guests and my attention flying over the canopy of the trees, the pyramid is surrounded by.
We saw maybe three of them during the entire day and did not think much about it, but within the last 3 weeks they became more and it seems like there no end yet. Traveling in dark fogs, locusts are grasshoppers that have entered a swarming phase, capable of covering large distances and rapidly stripping fields of vegetation. There are over 20 different species of locust. The one we see currently in the Playa del Carmen area is
The giant red-winged grasshopper (Tropidacris cristata dux)
Locusts differ from grasshoppers in that they have the ability to change their behavior and habits and can migrate over large distances. As the number of Locusts increase and become more crowded, they change their behavior from that of acting as an individual (solitarious) insect to that as acting as part of a group (gregarious). The appearance of the locust also changes
The last time in 2006, clouds of locusts have descended around the Mexican beach resorts of Cancun and the Riviera Maya, destroying plants and worried officials in a region which was still recovering from the devastating Hurricane Wilma.
According to the website https://www.riviera-maya-news.com the "Locust may threaten local honey production" and that certain areas around Playa del Carmen already have begun reporting damage to trees and other plants. Locals are expressing their concern in regards to the reproduction of local honey bees.
There’s evidence that warmer temperatures and more intense weather events influenced by climate change are causing locust plagues to shift globally. They’re descending on new locations, and, in some cases, becoming more frequent and more severe. Arianne Cease, a sustainability researcher at Arizona State University who investigates the spread and mitigation of locust plagues stated in an article published at http://motherboard.vice.com/: "Her work, and the work of others, has shown land use has as much of an impact on locust population numbers as climate and weather patterns, for example. Cutting down forests, which act as a barrier between locust populations, can increase population density."
Locust are Grasshoppers with Super Powers
The president of the Center for Safeguarding Use and Customs, Aniceto Caamal Cocom is worried because the reproduction cycle of the locusts occurs exponentially and could explode in the coming weeks since the region provides a lot of food. The reproduction is simple. They lay their eggs in the soil, and the nymphs hatch during the spring. After several molts, the locust becomes an adult. Locusts lifespans vary, but they can go through several generations in just a year.
Grasshoppers are plant eaters and can become pests of crops such as cereals, vegetables, and pasture. This is especially true in the locust state when they form swarms of millions. A Desert Locust adult can consume roughly its own weight in fresh food per day, that is about two grams every day. A 1 square km size swarm contains about 40 million locusts, which eat the same amount of food in one day as about 35,000 people, 20 camels or 6 elephants. This is based on a person eating an average of 2.3 kg of food per day, according to the USDA.
Are they dangerous?
Locusts do not attack people or animals. There is no evidence that suggests that locusts carry diseases that could harm humans.
Do you know the species?
Locusts are rich in protein
People in several countries collect locusts using large nets and by other means. Locusts are usually stir-fried, roasted or boiled and eaten immediately or dried and eaten later (see some recipes below). Locusts are rich in protein. During periods of increased locust activity, piles of dead locusts can be found in the market places of many locust affected countries.
Here are a few local recipes from locust-affected countries. Please send us yours! Tinjiya (Tswana recipe): remove the wings and hindlegs of the locusts, and boil in a little water until soft. Add salt, if desired, and a little fat and fry until brown. Serve with cooked, dried mealies (corn). Sikonyane (Swazi recipe): prepare embers and roast the whole locust on the embers. Remove head, wings, and legs, in other words, only the breast part is eaten. The South Sotho people use locusts especially as food for travellers. The heads and last joint of the hindlegs are broken off and the rest laid on the coals to roast. The roasted locusts are ground on a grinding stone to a fine powder. This powder can be kept for long periods of time and is taken along on a journey. Dried locusts are also prepared for the winter months. The legs, when dried, are especially relished for their pleasant taste. Cambodia: take several dozen locust adults, preferably females, slit the abdomen lengthwise and stuff a peanut inside. Then lightly grill the locusts in a wok or hot frying pan, adding a little oil and salt to taste. Be careful not to overcook or burn them. Barbecue (grilled): prepare the embers or charcoal. Place about one dozen locusts on a skewer, stabbing each through the centre of the abdomen. If you only want to eat the abdomen, then you may want to take off the legs or wings either before or after cooking. Several skewers of locusts may be required for each person. Place the skewers above the hot embers and grill while turning continuously to avoid burning the locusts until they become golden brown. Philippines: Locusts have been accepted in San Fernando,Pampanga as a palatable special dish, cooked "adobo" style. Adobo is a popularly common dish found in the Philippines, thus a national dish among the Filipinos. Typically made from pork or chicken or a combination of both, it is slowly cooked in soy sauce, vinegar, crushed garlic, bay leaf, and black peppercorns, and often browned in the oven or pan-fried afterwards to get the desirable crisped edges. This dish originates from the northern region of the Philippines. Commonly packed for Filipino mountaineers and travelers, the relatively long shelf-life of this food is well known due to one of its primary ingredient's, particularly vinegar, that inhibits the growth of bacteria. Tip: substitute locusts for the chicken or pork Uganda: Clean the locusts by removing the legs and wings, then fry them with some chopped onion and season with curry powder. Mexico: (1) Roast 40 locusts for 10 minutes at 180°, then remove the wings, legs and heads and toss with the juice of 1 lemon, 2 cloves of garlic and salt to taste. (2) Mash 2 avocados and spread on 6 tortillas. (3) Sprinkle with locust torsos and enjoy. Serves six. (adapted from a Mexican grasshopper dish from the pages of the excellent Man Eating Bugs: The Art and Science of Eating Insects, by Peter Menzel and Faith D'Aluisio
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