Locusts are part of a large group of insects commonly called grasshoppers which have big hind legs for jumping. (Kangaroos also have big hind legs for jumping but are not part of this group.)
Locusts belong to the family called Acrididae but differ from grasshoppers in that they have the ability to change their behaviour and habits. So, while locusts could stop smoking if they want, grasshoppers are paying big tobacco ‘till they go legs up.
A Desert Locust lives a total of about three to five months although this is extremely variable and depends mostly on weather and ecological conditions. Their little life cycle has three stages: egg, hopper and adult. Eggs hatch in about two weeks, hoppers develop in five to six stages over a period of about 30-40 days, and adults usually mature in about two to four months (Sometimes as long as nine months for late bloomers or locusts that are still living with their parents).
Locust swarms can vary from less than one square kilometre to several hundred square kilometres. There can be as many as 80 million locust adults in each square kilometre of swarm which means they can’t remember everyone’s name and are constantly saying ‘excuse me’ as they bump into each other.
One Desert Locust adult can consume roughly its own weight (about two grams) in food per day. You on the other hand take a year to eat your own body weight if you’re average. I take about six months.
Each ton of locusts eats the same amount of food in one day as about 10 elephants or 25 camels or 2,500 people. A large swarm can in a cultivated area can eat enough food to feed 400,000 people for one year. You can see why people complain.
In order to get back at locusts, sometimes people eat them. If you ever find yourself in the middle of a swarm, take advantage.
Here are some recipes to help.
Boiled Locust: remove the wings and hind legs of the locusts, and boil in a little water until soft. Add salt, if desired, and a little fat and fry until brown. Serve with cooked corn.
Roasted Locust: prepare embers and roast the whole locust on the embers. Remove head, wings, and legs. Only the breast part is eaten.
Traveling Locust: If traveling do what the South Sotho people do. The heads and last joint of the hind legs are broken off and the rest laid on the coals to roast. The roasted locusts are ground on a grinding stone to a fine powder. This powder can be kept for long periods of time and is taken along on a journey. Dried legs are especially relished for their pleasant taste.
Cambodian Peanut Stuffed Locust: take several dozen locust adults, preferably females, slit the abdomen lengthwise and stuff a peanut inside. Then lightly grill the locusts in a wok or hot frying pan, adding a little oil and salt to taste. Be careful not to overcook or burn them.
Grilled Locust: prepare the embers or charcoal. Place about one dozen locusts on a skewer, stabbing each through the centre of the abdomen. If you only want to eat the abdomen, then you may want to take off the legs or wings either before or after cooking. Several skewers of locusts may be required for each person. Place the skewers above the hot embers and grill while turning continuously to avoid burning the locusts until they become golden brown.