Calliptamus (=Caloptenus) italicus (L.) - Italian locust.

Systematic position.

The class Insecta, order Orthoptera, family Acrididae, subfamily Catantopinae, tribe Caloptenini, genus Calliptamus.

Biological group.

Polyphagous insect pests.

Morphology and biology.

Body of adult is medium-sized, stumpy (length, 14.5-28.7 mm in males, 21.9-41.6 mm in females). Elitra are well developed (length, 10.4-22.2 mm in males, 14.2-32.0 mm in females), venation sparse. Hind wings are a little bit shorter than elitra, rather narrow. Hind femora rather thick and short, 3.2-3.8 times as long as wide. Coloration is rather varied. Brownish-red, grey-brownish, brown, red, less often light and whitish tones dominate. Light longitudinal stripes (especially along lateral pronotal keels) and spots are often developed. Hind wings, as a rule, are pink at base. Hind femora has 1-3 blackish bands from above, red or pink from below, usually with 2 blackish incomplete transversal bands going on dorsal side. Hind tibia red, reddish, or pink, sometimes even whitish. Individuals of gregarious phase are somewhat larger, and their elytra and wings are longer than those on individuals of solitary phase. Egg pod cylindrical, arcuate, 22-42 mm in length, bipartite. Upper part is formed by a straight column of transparent, whitish with grey tone, foamy secretion, having weak walls and powdered with small-sized soil particles only. Its length 10-21 mm, diameter 3.5-4.0 mm. The lower part of the pod that keeps eggs is separated from the column by a light constriction; it easily breaks off, being gently bent. The egg capsule is 10-22 mm in length, 5.5-6.6 mm in diameter, with dense firm walls of 0.2-0.5 mm in thickness, made of soil particles fastened by a secretion. On average 20-60 eggs (usually 30-45) having the diameter 1.1-1.3 mm, gently bent, reddish, mat, 4.5-5.3 mm in length, arranged in 4 dense rows at angle 45-80 degrees to walls. The eggs are strongly fastened by a mat, grayish-yellow, opaque secretion. Larvae have 5 instars.


The area of distribution of the Italian Locust embraces most of the Mediterranean and considerable territory in Western Asia. In the north this species reaches central regions of Europe with very rarefied populations there, and the forest-steppe zone of Western Siberia. In the south it is rather widely settled along northern coast of the Mediterranean Sea, and also in the Middle East (except for the south). It is rather customary in Iran and Afghanistan, but does not reach their southern borders. In western part of geographic area the Italian Locust does not reach to the Atlantic coast, in the east it reaches the Ob. river, with separate local populations found along the Ob. right bank from Novosibirsk water storage basin up to Biisk. To the south it does not pass Ob.-Irtysh watershed and Mongol Altai.


Eggs are laid in soils of varying densities in stations with a sharp xerophytic nature and with rather sparse vegetation, in depth of 5-10 mm from soil surface. Dry steppes and semi-deserts with mosaic sward are optimum for the Italian Locust. The localities are characterized by a circle of preferable plants, drought-resistant dicotyledonous, for example, wormwood and sage-brushes, and also by places used for egg laying, i.e. almost bare sites, often of sandy soil. The locust density in undisturbed herbaceous localities in the south of Europe is usually insignificant (to 1 individual per sq. mile), but it is much more widespread there. In the north central part of its area it is sparsely distributed. In the Lower Volga Basin Region this species is customary in all kinds of ecosystems, gently disturbed and anthropogenic ones. The main regions of mass outbreaks are located in Kazakhstan and in the south of Western Siberia. The inclination of the Italian Locust to wormwood sites is rather clear; only 5th instar larvae and imagoes start to settle other types of localities.

Economic significance.

The larvae and adults greatly harm sowings of grain cereals, fabaceous, red and sugar-beet, many solanaceous, cruciferous, gourds, poppy, sunflower, poligonaceous and medicinal cultures, cotton, flax, Palma Christi, vegetable and volatile-oil-bearing plants, hemp, sesame, ambary, young plants of various fruit, berrylike and forest arboreal and bushy species, grapes, and also pastures and hay lands. In the south of Europe mass outbreaks occur in arid years. Large niduses of the locust mass reproduction are located in dry steppe parts of the Volgograd, Saratov, Samara, and Orenburg Regions, in Cis- and Transcaucasia. In the south of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, in plain parts of Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan the species can reproduce greatly along river valleys and oasis, being quite often serious pests of cotton and alfalfa. Some years mass outbreaks occur in the desertified subalpine valleys of the Inner Tien-Shan.

Reference citations:

Bei-Bienko G.Ya. 1932. A manual of locust survey. Leningrad: Upravlenie Sluzhby ucheta Gos. OBV Narkozema SSSR. 159 pp. (In Russian)
Lachininskii A.V., Sergeev, M.G., Chil.debaev, M.K., Chernyakhovsky M.E., Lockwood J.A., Kambulin V.E., Gapparov F.A. 2002. Locusts of Kazakhstan, Central Asia and adjacent territories. Larami: Association for Applied Akridology International, University of Wyoming. 387 pp. (In Russian)
Mishchenko L.L. 1952. Locusts (Catantopinae). Fauna of the USSR. Orthopterous insects. Leningrad: AN SSSR. V. 4(2): 610. (In Russian)
Sergeev M.G. 1986. Regularities in distribution of orthopterous insects of Northern Asia. Novosibirsk: Nauka. 238 pp. (In Russian)
Uvarov B.P. 1977. Grasshopers and Locusts. A Handbook of General Acridology. V. 2. London: Centre for Overseas Pest Research, Cambridge University Press. 613 pp.

© Grichanov I.Ya.

Photo © V.V.Neymorovets (VIZR)

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