Locusts Devastate Crops across Asia and Africa
Updated: Jul 25
BY: Sakib Tariq
Indian and Pakistani officials are working feverishly to shield their crops from one of the most feared insects known to mankind. Desert locusts began their path of destruction on Pakistani farmland in early May. The biblical pests have since shifted their focus to the Indian states of Gujarat, Rajput, Agra, and Delhi.
Delhi´s environment minister placed the state on high alert in anticipation of the crop-destroying insects. Residents of rural areas were advised to distract locusts by bursting firecrackers, burning neem leaves, beating drums, and playing music at a high volume. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization claims that desert locusts present a threat to at least 10% of the world's food security. Swarms have wrecked farmland across North Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. The locust invasion could not have arrived at a more inconvenient time for both nations as India surpassed 500 thousand confirmed Coronavirus cases and its neighbor, Pakistan, has reached the 200 thousand mark.
The threat that locust swarms pose is not a new phenomenon. Countless civilizations of the past have documented the destructive path that the cousins of grasshoppers carry out. Locusts are often solitary creatures but enter a gregarious phase under the perfect storm of conditions. When weather conditions are unusually dry and vegetation struggles the tiny pest’s band together in unaffected areas. Once together locusts experience major behavioral changes. Their central nervous system spikes its level of serotonin which triggers a more social lifestyle for the locusts. When the rainfall does return desert locusts undergo an intense mating season that raises their population exponentially. Thereafter, locusts begin a social migration adventure to find and devastate crops and vegetation in powerful swarms that are easily the size of soccer fields and small cities. The farm wreckers effortlessly travel over 100 kilometers in a day's span and each locust can manage to consume its weight in food.
The most effective method to control the dark clouds of locusts is the use of insecticides. Firefighters routinely spray farmland with large amounts of pesticides but it is widely recognized as an undesirable approach. Fortunately, the future holds hope for the locust ordeal. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has raised over 150 million dollars for the locust swarm effort. Emerging technology will be able to locate and nip locusts’ swarms before the biblical insects ravish hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of vegetation.
*All arguments made and viewpoints expressed within Youth In Politics and its nominal entities do not necessarily reflect the views of the writers or the organization as a whole.
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