Another locust attack expected in Pakistan in July: Shibli Faraz

Cheryl Sanders
May 30, 2020

India has not witnessed any full-blown locust cycles after 1962. Localised locust breeding was controlled in 1998, 2002, 2005, 2007 and 2010. He said that presently locusts were present in five divisions of Punjab and some areas of Balochistan and Dera Ismail Khan in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

A locust is a large, mainly tropical, grasshopper with powers of flight and it migrates in vast swarms which cause extensive damage to vegetation.

Locusts, as CBS News reported, are "considered the most destructive migratory pest in the world, with a small swarm of about 40 million locusts capable of gobbling up enough food for 35,000 people". Such an invasion poses a significant threat to the livelihoods and food security.

There has been a huge public outcry over the locust attack in Mumbai on social media platforms which have been flooded with pictures and videos of a burgeoning locust swarm.

"This is the biggest invasion in almost three decades". The locust swarms also threaten livestock, endangering pastoral communities, and can have an adverse impact on the tourism industry.

Despite the earlier-than-usual arrival of these locust swarms, the destruction of crops has been minimal so far, barring some summer crops in Rajasthan and MP. If their breeding is coterminous with that of the kharif crop, we could well have a situation similar to what maize, sorghum and wheat farmers of Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia experienced in March-April.

Experts warn the locust plague could get worse with more insects expected to reach India from the Horn of Africa next month.

The swarms began entering the country last month through neighboring Pakistan's Sindh province, and farmers fear another June wave of locusts could decimate crops.

What is making the plague so hard to control?

Afzal also said the Agriculture Department, Food Security Department, and Pakistan Army are actively helping in carrying out the anti-locust operation in 50 districts hit by the attack.

A single gregarious female locust can lay about 60-80 eggs three times during its average life cycle of 90 days.

Active swarms of "immature locust" still exist in 8 districts of Rajasthan (Barmer, Jodhpur, Nagaur, Bikaner, Ganganagar, Hanumangarh, Sikar and Jaipur), and 7 districts of Madhya Pradesh (Satna, Gwalior, Seedhi, Rajgarh, Baitul, Devas, Agar Malwa), it added. As they mature, their colour changes from pink to bright yellow, an evolutionary strategy to put off potential predators. Malathion is also included in the list of banned chemicals but has been subsequently allowed for locust control.

The time when India is already fighting Covid-19 pandemic, the worst locust attack in 27 years has become an added concern.

Total 89 fire brigades for pesticide spray, 120 survey vehicles, 47 control vehicles with spray equipment, and 810 tractors mounted sprayers have been deployed for effective locust control, according to the agri ministry.

Locusts crossed into Balaghat district of Madhya Pradesh from eastern Maharashtra on Thursday afternoon, a senior agriculture department official had said.

Locust swarm attacks may reportedly continue in India until July.

Other reports by iNewsToday