National Geographic : 1953 Apr
R eport from the Locust Wars 555 "First the pe t is an egg," Albert continued, "just one of 70 to 100 laid in the oil in a tiny cluster, like bananas. This tage la ts up to 40 days. Then it is a hopper, with three pairs of legs. It is black then, and here is the important thing: it can only hop and crawl. "For several weeks it moves with a group, but very lowly. This is when we get them. ~e feed them poi on mixed with bran and spread by hand. Or your planes spray them with aldrin-and-water so lution. " Came a diversion few professors have to con- tend with. ~ e slowed down for a camel herd feeding across the track. The herder, a robed Bedouin with a shiny rifle, rode a top the tallest camel. He tried to guide his beast out of the way, but it had another idea. Technical Cooperation Administration, Department of State In the track the camel halted with a jerk, and the herder slid down its neck like a child on a playground chute. As the Bedouin picked himself up, audibly re- flecting on the bea t 's ancestry , Albert aood - naturedly shook his finger at him. Bedouin Patriarch Scans the Horizon for the Enemy His nomadic people, traditionally at odds with government, willingly join the battle again t the locust. Confused by maps but never by monotonous, trackless sands, they guide control crews unerringly. " That's fine camel riding to show our visitors." Then he took up his favorite subject again. ' When the locust fir t becomes an adult, it is pink, and its two pairs of wings are grown. Later, when it can reproduce, it is yellow. These are the most deadly periods, the times when locusts may become a devouring horde. "I've never been so afraid as I was one morning in 1945, not far from here, when I first saw a dark band on the horizon holding back the sun from rising. I knew that this was locu st invasion, and that I, with only a few buckets of bait, must try to halt it before it reached my people's food. Since then we have learned how to do it, but what an awful feeling that was then 1 "There aren't two species of the Desert Locust as we once thought-one friendly and solitary, the other a ravening horde," Albert continued after a pause. " There 's only one- but we see it in two phases. The solitary locu st becomes a destructive, gregarious insect when conditions are riaht for multiplying." Locust Is a Dr. Jekyll-Mr. Hyde The entomologi t explained that the insect, when it remains scattered under normal con- ditions , i a gra . hopper of quiet, almost bo- vine dispo ition. But occa ionally Nature cre- ates just the proper condition , and then a handful of grasshoppers can quickly produce a vast progeny. oil, temperature, rainfall, and vegetation must be exactly right.