Protein-rich diets can be detrimental to the locust species Oedaleus asiaticus, according to researchers working in northeast China. As a consequence, swarms of these locusts are more likely to occur where vegetation contains low levels of nitrogen—a primary protein source for the insects.
Unfortunately for many farmers, erosion and heavy grazing by livestock contribute to desertification—a significant problem in China—but also reduce the amount of nitrogen in crops, thereby increasing the chances of a locust swarm on overgrazed land.
Genetically modified (GM) corn plants can reduce damage to other neighboring, unmodified crops too—and farmers who plant both types of crops are experiencing the economic benefits, researchers say this week in Science. This finding comes after William Hutchison from the University of Minnesota, along with colleagues from across the United States, studied the effects that genetically engineered corn has had on European corn borer moths in the United States over the years.