Locusts are insects that are related closely to grasshoppers. All species of locust undergo three main life stages: egg, nymph and adult locust. Though all locusts go through the phases, the amount of time spent in each stage varies according to the specific species of locust.
The male locust locates a female locust and inserts his semen into a sperm sac located on the female locust's abdomen. The female then releases eggs that mix with the male's semen and become fertilized.
Female locusts lay their eggs in the ground, most commonly in hard, firm soil. The eggs are deposited into the ground in groups of approximately 50. These groups are known as "pods" and they can be deposited up to 4 inches underground. A female locust will lay anywhere between one and three egg pods at one time.
The locust eggs generally hatch about two weeks after they were laid. These baby locusts are referred to as "hoppers" or "nymphs." Over the next month to two months after hatching, the nymph locusts go through five molting stages called "instars." After the fifth instar, the locust's wings are fully developed.
After the fifth molt, the locusts are called "fledglings." The fledglings cannot fly yet. Their bodies take approximately seven days to harden and become capable of flight. During this early stage of adult life, the locust must continually feed on vegetation in order to store up the energy necessary for reproduction and flying.
It takes approximately two weeks for the fledgling locust to reach sexual maturity. Adults often group together into swarms containing thousands of locusts. Adult locusts typically live about 10 weeks. During that time, they mate and the females lay eggs.
Mary Sharp has been writing professionally since 2007. Many of her articles appear online, specializing in the diet and habitat of wild animals. Sharp has a Master of Arts in English from the University of Texas and is pursuing a Doctor of Philosophy in English at the University of North Texas.