Tamil Nadu

Grasshoppers mistaken for locusts across T.N.

A grasshopper scared the public of Ooty. Experts said its a brown-spotted locust Cyrtacanthacris tatarica, a common grass hopper mostly found in the plains and not the desert locust.   | Photo Credit: M. Sathyamoorthy

With locusts decimating crops in many parts of India, the common grasshopper is being mistaken to be part of the swarm across Tamil Nadu.

In fact, in Khandal near Udhagamandalam, a resident panicked on seeing a species of locust, captured it and brought it to the notice of the district administration on Thursday.

Over the last few days, the spotted coffee grasshopper (Aularches miliaris), the Bombay locust (Patanga succincta) and the Cyrtacanthacris tartarica, a type of grasshopper widespread throughout Africa and Indo-China, have been mistaken to be part of the dreaded swarm of desert locusts (Schistocerca gregaria), that are ravaging crops in north-west India.

The panic has become so widespread that the Nilgiris Collector Innocent Divya had to address concerns of the swarm reaching Tamil Nadu. She said, after verifying with experts, it was learned that the species captured and placed inside a glass jar was not a desert locust. But she added that officials from the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University would inspect the district soon to take stock of the situation just in case.

Such unreasonable panic about an insect with which we usually share our backyards with are unwarranted, say entomologists.

Explaining the beneficial role grasshoppers play in local ecology, Dhaneesh Bhaskar, a member of the Grasshopper Specialist Group of the Species Survival Commission of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), said that the grasshoppers can induce nutrient cycling in ecosystems. They help in the management of an ecosystem as they are an indicator of the health of biodiversity in any given area.

Mr. Bhaskar said that none of the three species noticed in the Nilgiris and surrounding regions are an immediate threat, but added that species like the Bombay locust and the Cyrtacanthacris tartarica are capable of undergoing a “phase transformation.”

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Printable version | Jul 30, 2021 3:34:20 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/grasshoppers-mistaken-for-locusts-across-tn/article31708690.ece

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