Locust Watch


dLocust: the concept
A single survey team must cover a huge, remote and often inaccessible area in the desert to find green vegetation and check it for locust presence. Earth observation satellites can help to reduce this area to that where it has recently rained or there may be green vegetation, but still the area remains vast. Drones can be used to first map the green vegetation in a specific area and then to check each vegetation spot for locust infestations. FAO has developed the dLocust for this purpose. In the near future, other drones could be used for control if the areas are not too large; however, it is still too early to deploy this technology because control parameters and standard operating procedures need to be developed first to ensure safe and effective control.

dLocust: technical specifications
The primary purpose of using a drone during surveys is to identify areas of green vegetation so that the ground team can go specifically to each area to check for locusts. In this way, a survey is much less random and more focussed. Any drone used for Desert Locust survey must have a long endurance and battery life. It should be well adapted for harsh operating conditions and tested under desert environments.
dLocust: flight planning
The survey team in the field can use the eLocust3 tablet to plan the drone flight. This avoids carrying additional IT equipment to the field. The dLocust app is used to select the sampling pattern and other operational parameters for each flight. The dLocust app communicates directly with the drone from the tablet.
dLocust: flight
The portable fixed-wing drone is attached to an elastic bungee launcher for easy take-off. dLocust relies on a parachute to land upside down at the initial take-off location in order to protect the optical equipment.
dLocust: flight results
For long distance surveys, dLocust finds green vegetation by using a monospectral camera that relies on image processing and AI software. Locust infestations are detected by a high-resolution camera. In both cases, data are processed in real time by a computer that is embedded onboard. Upon landing, the dLocust app is used to review the flight results.
dLocust kit: basic configuration
The basic dLocust kit contains everything that is required to operate one dLocust by a survey team in the field.
dLocust: extra supplies
An option is available that contains additional supplies that may be useful in the field, especially during extended periods of surveys.
dLocust: training
A training package is supplied with the dLocust drone and app that consists of theoretical and practical training delivered virtually, face-to-face, and in the field. In this way, survey officers will gain the necessary expertise and confidence to use drones whenever and wherever required without the need to rely on third party service providers.
Back to Activities
Climate predictions

Using six-month rainfall and temperature predictions to forecast locust developments

Digital tools

eLocust3 suite: real-time data transmission from the field to national locust centres

Earth observation

Monitoring rainfall, vegetation and soil moisture from space

Emergency operations

EarthRanger: tracking aerial survey and control operation


RAMSES & SWARMS GIS: managing and analysing geo-spatial data


Estimating locust development rates, migration, 3D, and optimal response