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East Africa is in the midst of an alarming desert locust outbreak, which has caused serious damage to farmland in Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia. Triggered by factors such as weather and agricultural practices, once-solitary insects can become social creatures, forming swarms millions strong. The end result can be devastating for crops, often in economically precarious areas. And climate change could just make the problem worse. Check out our video for insight into what makes a locust a locust, and how an insect can go from minor player to major pest, seemingly in the blink of an eye.

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Editor’s note: This video, originally published January 16, erroneously included some images of katydids. The video has been updated to correct the species of insects shown and to include new footage of the current desert locust outbreak in East Africa.