Locust displacing winds in eastern Australia reassessed with observations from an insect monitoring radar

Zhenhua Hao, V. Alistair Drake, Leesa Sidhu, John R. Taylor

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    3 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Based on previous investigations, adult Australian plague locusts are believed to migrate on warm nights (with evening temperatures >25 °C), provided daytime flight is suppressed by surface winds greater than the locusts’ flight speed, which has been shown to be 3.1 m s−1. Moreover, adult locusts are believed to undertake briefer ‘dispersal’ flights on nights with evening temperature >20 °C. To reassess the utility of these conditions for forecasting locust flight, contingency tests were conducted comparing the nights selected on these bases (predicted nights) for the months of November, January, and March and the nights when locust migration were detected with an insect monitoring radar (actual nights) over a 7-year period. In addition, the wind direction distributions and mean wind directions on all predicted nights and actual nights were compared. Observations at around 395 m above ground level (AGL), the height at which radar observations have shown that the greatest number of locusts fly, were used to determine the actual nights. Tests and comparisons were also made for a second height, 990 m AGL, as this was used in the previous investigation. Our analysis shows that the proposed criteria are successful from predicting migratory flight only in March, when the surface temperature is effective as a predicting factor. Surface wind speed has no predicting power. It is suggested that a strong daytime surface wind speed requirement should not be considered and other meteorological variables need to be added to the requirement of a warm surface temperature around dusk for the predictions to have much utility.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)2073-2084
    Number of pages12
    JournalInternational Journal of Biometeorology
    Volume61
    Issue number12
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2017

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