The fifth instar – lifecycle of the locust

Most of my locusts are ‘thirds and fourths’ – they’re nymphs that have moulted three or four times.  Each moulting stage is known as an instar, and like many other insects locusts go through five instars before maturing into adults.

Here’s what the stages look like – this is modelled on the Australian plague locust, but the phases are the same for the migratory locust (the migratory locust is a little larger):


Here’s the lifecycle of the locust:

aplocust-cycle-lb(images sourced from – Australian Department of Agriculture and Food)

What is especially cool about locusts is that they have two forms – a gregarious form (orange/brown) and a solitary form (green).  Which form a locust takes is dependent on how many locusts are hanging out together, so in my tank they’re all gregarious – it is only the gregarious form that displays swarming behaviour.

I have just one adult locust (I think she’s female) – its wings appeared today:


So I guess it’s almost time to start dampening the sand pit in the tank. I’d better start getting some recipes ready too! I’ve got a copy of ‘Entertaining with Insects‘ from the library which is extremely entertaining, although I have some specific ideas for a locust tortilla…

Eating insects is nothing new, and following the recent UN report it may be time for entomophagy to be embraced by the western world.  The Dutch are already looking at ways to make eating insects popular (see here) and the New Yorker has suggested insects could be the new sushi.

Also check out this post-grad project into entomophagy here – I understand introducing insects into the Western diet is difficult, but I’m not keen to make bugs easier to swallow by pretending I’m not eating bugs.  That being said, making flour from orthoptera is a cool way to add bugs to your baking – and increasing the protein content.  There’s a recently funded kickstarter project that does just that: (awesome!)


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