Locusts are a group of species of short-horned grasshoppers in the family of Acrididae that have a teeming period. These tiny and dangerous insects usually appear individually. However, under other conditions, these insects become more plentiful and transform their habits.
The 2019-2020 Locusts Infestation
During this period of locust invasion, regions such as Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, South Asia, and South America fell victim. It was an outbreak of desert locusts. The locust plague is the worst in 7 decades in Kenya and the worst in over 2 decades in Somalia and India. This outbreak started when Cyclone Mekunu made big rains in the Rub’ al Khali. Later on, swarms moved from those areas to Iran, Pakistan, India, and East Africa. Late last year, there was an invasion in Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, Kenya, Egypt, and among other states. The restriction in travels due to the pandemic is hindering the efforts to control the insects.
Recently, there have been reports that there might be a new locust plague in the East African region late this year.
Kenya’s Move to Hinder the New Infestation
The country is trying to locate the locusts to hinder a new locust invasion forming in the East African region.
What Happened in February?
There were hundreds of billions of these insects that attacked parts of Asia and East Africa. They created a huge problem for the livestock farmers as they ate all greenery and left none for the animals.
How is the UN-FAO Helping in Preventing the Invasion?
The UN Food and Agriculture Organization is teaming up with a helicopter group to search for locusts in rural areas.
Wes Renken is a helicopter pilot who says:
“Desert locusts have several negative effects and can be completely destructive in rural communities. They compete for the same grazing as locals’ livestock and can destroy crops if they move into that area.”
What Happens Before Locusts Infest an Area?
Before an invasion proceeds, young locusts locate themselves on tops of trees and crops and look like a pink frost. They eat, grow, fly, gather in swarms, and travel long distances of over 150km daily. The locusts eat anything greenish they find on their way.
Etapar Lezian’s Views
Etapar is a farmer who explains the aftermath of a locust invasion and praises the new locust control project. Lezian says:
“There were lots of locusts that were eating all the vegetation of the livestock, and a lot of goats died. However, after the project started, there are no more locusts and it has helped a lot.”
Locating a Swarm of Locusts
There are new ways in which experts use when they want to locate a swarm of these insects earlier. They first identify a swarm then people on the ground take a GPS spot and inform the helicopter pilot. The pilot does a ground confirmation of the insects and their phase of growth.
Advantages and Negative Effects of Locusts
According to research, experts found out that locusts are rich in protein. Moreover, their waste is good fertilizer. Their negative effects happen when they appear in swarms and eat all vegetation and crops. This might eventually lead to a food crisis and the death of animals that depend on green food.