Locusts Blow Into Melbourne

The Victorian plague locust commissioner, Gordon Berg, has confirmed locusts have been swept into Melbourne on unseasonably warm northerly winds overnight.

Mr Berg says there have been more than 200 reports to the locust hotline from suburbs such as Box Hill, Clifton Hill, Carlton and Rye.

In the inner-city suburb of Carlton, Beverley MacLean has captured a locust in a jar for identification.

“I actually was lucky enough to catch it,” she said.

“I’ve put the scrunched-up tissue and the locust in a little jar, so I have it.”

Clifton Hill resident, Jane, told ABC Radio at first she thought the insects were moths.

“They sort of buzz through the air, then drop to the ground,” she said.

Mr Berg says it is the first trickle of flights at the start of the spring season.

“So yes, they’re here. Unfortunately we won’t be able to control every locust,” he said.

Mr Berg is not concerned about the low numbers of locusts at the moment.

“It’s only when they get to swarming densities that you start to get very severe damage.”

Mr Berg says locusts are regarded as swarming when they reach a density of between five and ten per square metre.

That is when they can cause damage to crops.

“They undergo a behavioural change once they get to a certain density. Rather than behaving as individuals they tend to behave as a group,” he said.

Mr Berg says there is a simple and environmentally-friendly way to deal with the animals in small numbers. They can be squashed.

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