Submitted to: Advances in Applied Acridology
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/20/2003
Publication Date: 4/25/2003
Citation: Showler, A. 2003. Remote sensing for desert locusts: Panacea, tool, or hoax? In: Lockwood, J., Latchininsky, A., editors. Advances in Applied Acridology. Laramie, WY: Association for Applied Acridology International. p. 5-8. Interpretive Summary: Remote sensing is often promoted as being a panacea for desert locust survey efforts in Africa and Asia, but others dismiss it as being largely unnecessary, expensive, and impractical. This paper makes a case for priority situations in which remote sensing can best be used, such as in remote and insecure desert locust breeding areas. However, it is also pointed out that during a previous desert locust outbreak, early control was effected without the applied use of remote sensing.
Technical Abstract: Remote sensing, particularly for greenness using Normalized Difference Vegetation Index technology, has been developing for use in desert locust survey since the 1986-1989 desert locust plague. Early applications were not notably useful because they were low-resolution, their delivery was not timely, and image artifacts made interpretation difficult. During the 1990s remote sensing technology was refined, but timeliness and resolution were still problems. There has been a tendency for skepticism about remote sensing for desert locust survey, in part because it has been promoted for years at international fora without evidence for its efficacy in real world situations. This paper discusses where remote sensing can best be applied, especially remote or insecure areas where desert locusts are known to breed. Such information can assist in forecasting desert locust breeding, streamline survey efforts in remote areas, and possibly help to enhance preparedness in and around insecure areas. However, even if remote sensing were developed sufficiently to supplement GIS composite maps, the 1997-1998 desert locust campaign showed that remote sensing, which was not used in an operational sense, is not a panacea, and in some cases, it may not be entirely necessary.