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UWyo Magazine

May 2016 | Vol. 17, No. 3

Ecosystem science and management Professor Alexandre Latchininsky’s research helps control locusts and grasshoppers worldwide.

Ecosystem science and management Professor Alexandre Latchininsky’s research helps control locusts and grasshoppers worldwide.

 

Combating Grasshoppers and Locusts

It’s something out of a horror movie: swarms of locusts swooping down and destroying crops and livelihoods. But it happens. In fact, ecosystem science and management Professor Alexandre Latchininsky says 10 percent of the world’s population is affected by locusts. In rangelands like Wyoming, grasshoppers can also be detrimental. “Even if it is a non-outbreak year, grasshoppers take off roughly 25 percent of vegetation,” Latchininsky says of rangeland impacts. “When there’s an outbreak, it can go up to 100 percent.” This is harmful to grazing livestock and wildlife.

Latchininsky, who originally hails from Russia, has dedicated his career to locust and grasshopper control worldwide, including pioneering work on remote-sensing applications.

“Most of the time locusts live in very remote places,” he says. “They can quickly build their populations if the conditions are favorable for them. Then they fly out and create all these problems for agriculture and pastures. We need to monitor them very well—where they are, their hotspots and breeding areas. One of the methods we developed is remote sensing—using satellite images and GIS to cover those areas, which are difficult to access. These images can produce meaningful information regarding where we have locusts. We provide the recipe for local locust managers for targeted survey and targeted treatments.”

For North American grasshopper treatments, Latchininsky worked with Professor Jeff Lockwood and his team on an economical and targeted treatment that earned them the International Integrated Pest Management Award. “We know where the infestations of grasshoppers are, but we don’t want to blanket them with insecticides, so we developed a method called reduced agent and area treatments,” Latchininsky says. “We apply lower-than-usual doses of insecticide that is not broad spectrum. It is harmless for birds and mammals. We apply it not in blankets but stripes, so we reduce the cost and environmental impacts.”

Latchininsky has many partnerships, including CIRAD Agricultural Research for Development in France, Novosibirsk State University in Russia, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, Australian Plague Locust Commission and the USDA. In fact, he’s conducted research and trainings and given presentations in 21 countries and hosted visiting scientists from China, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Australia, Morocco, Mexico and Mauritania. He also teaches and mentors UW students. In 2014, he was honored with the UW Faculty Achievement in Internationalization award.

What’s next for Latchininsky? “One of the things we’ve been working on for many years and are on the brink of finally accomplishing is biological control of locusts and grasshoppers. This means the use of pathogens—microbes that can affect grasshoppers but will not harm anything else.”


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The Magazine for Alumni and Friends of the University of Wyoming


About UWyo

Advertise

Subscribe

UWyo Archives

Contact Us

UWyo Magazine
University of Wyoming
Dept. 3226
1000 East University Ave.
Laramie, WY 82071-2000
Phone: 307-766-2379
TTY: 307-766-6729
Email: uwyomag@uwyo.edu

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