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What Do Locusts Eat?

What Do Locusts Eat?

Locusts are a collection of short-horned grasshoppers that belong to the Acrididae family.  These insects can often be devastating to an economy because of their lifestyle.  During some stages of their lives, they can be solitary and won’t cause too much discomfort.  But at other times they enter a swarming phase and can cause a lot of destruction in the agricultural sector.

A large swarm or plague of locusts can easily devour hectares of agricultural farms within just a few days and they are quite unstoppable at this point.  Farmers usually attempt to maintain their numbers with the use of pesticides.  Sadly, these pesticides used to save crops usually are not too healthy for the environment and can affect several other insect and animal species.

What Do Locusts Eat?

Locusts are so devastating because they can have such healthy appetites during their swarming stage.  They are herbivores and tend to consume a huge variety of plant types.  Typically, they focus on softer plant matter such as tender leaves and soft twigs or sprouts.

Different species of locusts do prefer different food types.  Some species only focus on soft greens while others may also consume dry plant matter.

Here is a quick look at the types of food these insects love to devour:

Grasses

These insects will consume the leaves of just about any type of grass they find.  They do prefer the leaves of agricultural crops over grass but will eat grass if these crops are not available to them.  These animals can eat any grass including beachgrass, cordgrass, gamagrass, buffalo grass, bristle grass, and many other types.  Some grasshopper types will even consume dried grass types if they cannot get fresh soft green grass to consume.

Crops

Locusts pose a huge threat to the agricultural sector because these grasshoppers can eat such a huge variety of crop types.  They will eat the leaves of plants such as corn, wheat, potatoes, carrots, onions, beets, tomatoes, spinach, herbs, and many others.  There isn’t a crop type these insects won’t try to devour.

Vegetables and fruits

While consuming leaves, locusts may also choose to feed on some of the fruits and veggies these plants bear.  They will eat carrots, apples, green beans, peas, pumpkin, and any other type of soft fruits and veggies they might sink their fangs into.

Natural foliage

These insects can also cause a lot of devastation to natural foliage.  They will eat almost any type of grass and they also pose a huge threat to other natural landscapes with plants like brushes, bushes, vine plants, trees, sprouts, and many other types of plants.

Water

Most locusts get all their needed water from the plants they eat.  If these insects are kept on dry foods, they will need access to freshwater.  Without water supplies, locusts may become cannibalistic and will eat each other.

Diet Variations

There almost isn’t a plant these insects won’t devour.  The biggest diet variations they have are that they will eat more during their swarming phase.  They will also resolve to cannibalism if they become dehydrated.  They will also eat various veggies, wild plants, and grass.

How to Feed Locusts

Feeding a pet locust is one of the easiest things to do.  You can simply add fresh leaves to your locust tank and these hungry insects will instantly start devouring the food.

What do Baby Locusts Eat?

Baby locusts are called nymphs.  They look like grasshoppers but don’t have wings yet.  Nymphs eat the same basic foods as adult locusts.  They prefer softer green grass and tend to avoid dried foods since they need lots of moisture to grow.  Locusts will spend 4 – 8 weeks in grasshopper stage without wings before they will transform into locusts with wings.

How Much Do Locusts Eat?

Locusts do eat a lot considering their size.  A large swarm of locusts can consume as much as 160,000 tons of food per day.  This mass amount of corn could, for example, feed up to 800,000 people for an entire year.

How Often Do Locusts Eat?

At some points in their lives, locusts will eat much more than other times.  During the swarming phase, these hungry insects can continuously consume food throughout the day.  Their feces consist of 85% moisture which means they constantly need to feed to stay hydrated.

Can Humans Eat Locusts?

Just like worms, locusts are a common food for humans in a great many countries.  These insects are rich in protein and they can be prepared in different ways.  Locusts are especially popular in marketplaces during periods of increased activity.

People are often encouraged to eat these insects as a natural way to reduce the economic impact these insects can have on the economy.

If you are eating locusts, you should take care not to consume insects that have been poisoned with pesticides.  It is also important to prepare these foods correctly so you won’t consume bacteria that might result in disease.

Here is a quick look at the top ways to prepare locusts for eating;

Roasting

These insects can be roasted.  To do this, you first need to remove the legs and wings and sprinkle your insects with salt.  You can now roast the insects for 170 degrees C for 12 minutes until they become grey and crisp.  Roasted locusts are best served with a good sauce.

Stir-frying

One of the easiest ways to prepare these insects as food is by stir-frying them.  These insects are first boiled for 1 minute before the water is drained.  The legs are torn off and they are then stir-fried for 10 minutes.  Many also prefer to shimmer these insects in soy sauce for 2 hours before cooling them and serving them.

Smoked

Locusts can also be smoked.  The legs and wings are first removed and ideally, your locusts should be boiled for 10 minutes.  You can then add them to a smoking machine and allow them to smoke for a recommended time.  These locusts can be eaten with spices and salt or can be combined with other foods.

Dried

These insects can also be dried.  You don’t have to de-gut your locusts but if you don’t, proper drying is essential.  These insects can be dried out in a low oven or the hot sun and should then be stored in cardboard boxes.

It is important to research locust species before you decide to turn these insects into a meal.  Some of these insect species do contain venom and toxins that can be harmful to you.  You should only focus on edible locust species.