The Effects of Nitrogen Fertilization of Wheatgrass on the South American Locust (Schistocerca cancellata)
Locusts are a major crop pest in many parts of the world and different species are endemic to different countries. In Latin America, the South American Locust (Schistocerca cancellata) is the predominant species found mostly in Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Paraguay, and southern Brazil with Argentina being the most affected. Several control and management practices, including biological control, have been implemented in these countries in the past to control the locusts and reduce their impact on crop and vegetation, however, effective long-term control and management practices will require a detail understanding of how the predominant locust species in this region responds to resource variation. Research has shown that there is strong evidence that locusts, and many other organisms, will actively balance dietary macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, and lipids) to optimize growth, survival, and/or reproduction. A study by Cease et. al, 2017, on the dietary preferences of the Mongolian locust (Oedaleus asiaticus) showed that it prefers diets that are high in carbohydrates over diets that are high in protein, in this case locusts self-selected a 1:2 ratio of protein:carbohydrate. This and many other studies provide vital insight into the nutritional and feeding preferences of these locust species but the effects that this difference in protein: carbohydrate preferences has on growth, egg production, flight potential, and survival has yet to be fully explored, hence, this study investigates the effects that nitrogen fertilization of wheatgrass will have on the growth, egg production, survival, and flight muscle mass of the South American locust in a controlled, laboratory environment.