Subject: Locust-type critter
Location: Sengera, Kenya
January 15, 2013 5:32 am
The local people tried to scare me with this creature and popped him onto my desk while I was working. I didn’t jump and promptly encouraged him onto my hands before getting someone to take his pic before I released him. It looks like a plague-type creature that could obliterate crops, but I haven’t heard of any problems of them in this very tropical and green part of Kenya.
Signature: Ben Fiddes
Locust is a name generally reserved for Grasshoppers that travel in swarms. We have tried to identify this large Grasshopper to the species level, but we have not been successful. We first found a matching image on this African Trails Travel Blog, but all that is mentioned is: “Huge grasshopper found in the morning.” We also located images on Jerbarker’s Grasshoppers and Crickets page, but it is only identified as “Grasshopper species (locust?), Tsavo NP, Kenya. December 2007.” Perhaps we will eventually find a species identification for you.
Karl to the Rescue: Garden Locust
Hi Daniel and Ben:
It looks like a Garden Locust (Acanthacris ruficornis). There are two subspecies: A. ruficornis citrina (sometimes referred to as the Migratory Bird Locust) is restricted to west-central Africa and Morocco; and, A. ruficornis ruficornis, which is common throughout Africa south of the Sahara. Although it can be a pest on a variety of crops, it does not appear to be a swarming species. According to the Biodiversity Explorer: “In South Africa it is the common large brown grasshopper found in people’s gardens, often referred to erroneously as a locust (the term locust should be applied only to swarming species of grasshoppers).” It is consumed by people in some parts of Africa. Regards. Karl