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Band movement and thermoregulation in Schistocerca cancellata

Piou C., Zagaglia G., Medina H., Trumper E., Rojo Brizuela X., Maeno K.O.. 2022. Journal of Insect Physiology, 136 : 9 p..

DOI: 10.1016/j.jinsphys.2021.104328

At high density, juvenile locusts create marching hopper bands. Understanding the roles of temperature and vegetation on the movement of these bands shall allow to better forecast and control them. Following a hopper band in North Argentina in November 2019, we explored the thermoregulation behaviours of the South American locust, Schistocerca cancellata. Gut-content samples informed about the feeding status at different time of the day. Hoppers' body temperature was above cold air temperature in the mornings during basking and group-basking activities and before the onset of marching behaviour. Marching by walking or hopping was dominant at body temperatures close to 40 °C. Jumping, stilting, shading and perching on plants were seen as thermoregulatory behaviours to avoid ground temperatures above 50 °C. Feeding was observed throughout the day with continuous high gut contents despite an intermittent pattern of feeding-resting-marching. Speed and daily travelled distance of the front of the hopper band was depending on the type of encountered vegetation. Daily behavioural patterns, thermoregulatory behaviours, walking speed and daily travelled distances of S. cancellata were similar to the ones observed for the Desert locust, S. gregaria, in Africa. High air temperatures recorded during the observation times could explain the continuous feeding patterns. These species may have evolved behaviours of alternating consuming a bit and marching as a migration strategy to avoid staying where no food is available after the havoc left behind large hopper bands. Recommendations made for the control of Desert locust hopper bands can be extended to South American locust ones.

Mots-clés : ravageur des plantes; thermorégulation; physiologie animale; schistocerca; comportement anormal; relation plante animal; schistocerca cancellata

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