Do Locusts Bite?

Do Locusts Bite?

The biting tendencies of locusts have long intrigued researchers and observers. These notorious insects, known for their swarming behavior and devastating impact on crops, possess remarkable adaptations that enable them to survive and thrive. While their primary focus is consuming vegetation, the question of whether they bite humans or other animals still lingers.


Locusts resemble ordinary grasshoppers in their basic body structure. They typically have a robust elongated body, which can range in size from a few centimeters to several inches in length, depending on the species. Their bodies are divided into three main parts: the head, thorax, and abdomen. Locusts are known for having three pairs of jointed legs, well-adapted for jumping and leaping.

The wings of a locust are another distinguishing characteristic. They have two pairs of wings, with the forewings being thick and leathery, while the hindwings are more delicate and membranous. When at rest, the wings fold neatly along the length of their bodies.

The coloration of locusts can vary depending on factors such as species, environment, and life stage:


During their solitary phase, locusts bear a striking resemblance to their grasshopper brethren. Like their quieter counterparts, they have vibrant green or brown coloration that blends seamlessly with their surroundings, serving as nature’s camouflage. In this phase, locusts live and behave much like ordinary grasshoppers, exhibiting solitary behaviors and occupying separate territories.


Locusts unveil their more notorious identity when the environment takes a dramatic turn. If a locust enters the gregarious phase, it undergoes a radical makeover. Their once-subdued hues of greens and browns are abandoned. These new colorations can range from bold yellows and blacks to vibrant reds, serving as a visual warning to potential predators.

The transformation of locusts extends far beyond a mere change in coloration. In their gregarious phase, locusts undergo a remarkable growth spurt, becoming larger in size and developing elongated bodies. Their wings, too, undergo a striking expansion, priming them for long-distance flights in massive swarms that can cover hundreds of square miles. This increased body size allows locusts to store fat reserves, ensuring they have the necessary energy to sustain their extraordinary journeys across vast territories.


Locusts have an interesting ability to transform from living alone in the solitary phase to joining large groups (known as swarms) in the gregarious phase. 

The shift to the gregarious phase typically occurs when locust populations become dense, food resources are abundant, and certain environmental conditions are met. They become more social and tend to move and migrate together as a group. This change is also influenced by hormones in their bodies that can affect their appearance, size, and even how their brains work. As a result, locusts enter the gregarious phase and form enormous swarms that can travel long distances and cause significant damage to crops and vegetation.


Locusts are adaptable creatures capable of thriving in various temperature ranges. These pests have a specific ideal habitat encompassing abundant vegetation for feeding, suitable spots for laying eggs, and a climate supporting their life cycle.

Grasslands and savannas are often associated with the presence of locusts because these environments offer a wealth of grasses and other plants that serve as plentiful food sources. Locusts particularly flourish in regions with moderate rainfall, typically falling within the range of 0 to 400 mm per year. It’s the delicate balance between a lush supply of vegetation and the availability of moisture that creates a nurturing habitat, sustaining locust populations and providing optimal conditions for their reproductive success.


Locusts are a near-worldwide phenomenon that isn’t limited to specific regions. These insects are found in diverse habitats from temperate to tropical climates. Locusts are particularly present in Africa, Asia, Europe, Australia, and parts of the Americas. Their adaptability allows them to thrive in various environments, ranging from grasslands and savannas to agricultural areas.


Africa, with its history of devastating locust infestations, serves as one of the primary habitats for these swarming insects. Vast savannas and grasslands provide perfect breeding grounds and ample food sources for locusts. The notorious desert locust poses a recurring threat to agricultural crops in countries like Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia.


Locusts are also found in parts of Asia and Europe. Countries such as India, Pakistan, Iran, and China have experienced the consequences of locust swarms. The diverse landscapes and rich agricultural areas of these regions offer locusts ideal conditions for breeding and feeding. In Europe, locust species can be found in countries including Spain, Italy, and Greece where they can pose significant challenges to local farmers.


The vast and arid expanses of Australia’s outback are another haven for locust populations. This continent experiences cyclical outbreaks of locust swarms, affecting agricultural areas and disrupting the balance of ecosystems. The voracious appetite of the Australian plague locust wreaks havoc on crops and vegetation during infestation periods.


Locusts have made their mark in the Americas as well, albeit on a smaller scale compared to other regions.

With its rich agricultural tapestry, Argentina has experienced locust outbreaks, particularly in the country’s northern reaches. Farmers in these regions faced challenges and setbacks as they contended with the relentless onslaught of locust swarms. Brazil, Uruguay, and Paraguay have also experienced locust activity.

What about locusts in the United States? According to Texas A&M AgriLife Today, while locust swarms haven’t been a problem in the country for quite some time, there are reasons for concern. According to Dr. Hojun Song, an expert in the field, climate change and the migration patterns of locusts from Mexico could become legitimate concerns in the future, particularly in southern Texas. This raises the need for proactive monitoring and measures to address the potential threats that locusts may pose in the next 20 to 100 years.


When locust swarms unleash their fury, the outcomes are catastrophic. These insatiable insects can cause immense damage to agricultural landscapes, leaving behind widespread destruction and despair. In fact, a single square kilometer of a locust swarm can devour the same amount of food in a day as 35,000 people

The numbers speak volumes about the alarming impact of locust swarms. A medium-sized swarm can contain up to 150 million locusts per square kilometer, while larger swarms can encompass several hundred billion individuals. 


Locusts gravitate towards areas with bare or sandy soil, basking in the unobstructed sunlight and warmth that aid in the eggs’ development. You might find them favoring recently cultivated fields, fallow lands, or even the edges of roads. Female locusts will usually lay one to three egg pods, each containing 7–10 eggs. When multiple locusts come together to lay their eggs in close proximity, creating a collective grouping, it’s referred to as an “egg bed.”

Locusts carefully deposit their eggs within the top 2-10 centimeters of the soil. Each egg pod holds an average of 30 to 70 pale yellow eggs. These eggs measure approximately 5 to 6 mm in length and 1.5 mm in diameter, with variations influenced by the season. Summer pods tend to carry more eggs than those in spring or late autumn. This is because during the summer months, locusts can lay pods of eggs at intervals as short as five days. As the autumn season sets in, this interval extends to a range of 10 to 14 days. 

Once the eggs are carefully laid, the pod is sealed with a frothy plug from the female, effectively shielding the eggs from potential harm. Within these sealed pods, the eggs await their metamorphosis, undergoing the gradual process of growth and transformation. The sealed protection ensures their safety until the time is right for them to hatch.


The question of whether or not locusts bite is a common curiosity when it comes to these peculiar insects. Locusts are generally harmless to humans and other animals during their solitary phase. They primarily feed on vegetation, using their powerful mandibles to consume leaves and stems.

However, the situation can change when locusts enter their gregarious phase. During this phase, locusts exhibit swarming behavior and a shift in their feeding habits. The gregarious locusts can become more aggressive and may resort to biting humans and animals when they feel threatened or cornered.

While locust bites are not known to be venomous or carry diseases that can directly harm humans, the bites themselves can cause itching, irritation, or small, superficial wounds. However, it’s safe to say that locusts biting humans is a relatively rare occurrence and typically only happens when individuals come into direct contact with a swarm or try to handle them.


While most homes in the United States will never face a locust infestation, the same can’t be said for other types of bothersome pests. Cockroaches, scorpions, spiders, mice, bedbugs, and fleas are just some of the common pests that infest homes and businesses across the country. If you’re facing an unwelcome infestation, the experts at Joshua’s Pest Control can help. 

With the experience, training, and tools to tackle pest problems of any size, our field professionals can help you reclaim you property and restore your peace of mind. Contact us today for a free quote and get ready to say goodbye to annoying pest problems. 


Author Bio

Courtney Enzor has worked in the pest control industry for about a decade. From helping you build a fly trap to giving you the best tips for identifying various bugs, she loves answering all your pest-related questions and sharing her pest-related expertise through writing. At the end of the day, she hopes her content will help people avoid mishaps and keep families happy and healthy!