Crop destroying – migratory insects from the grasshopper family, Dessert Locusts, are being seen in the west and centre of India. No other species form as quickly as the desert locust, eggs in the ground for over 20 years start hatching all at once when the conditions are appropriate. Locust come into action specifically due to rising temperatures and diminished rainfalls
During their initial part of life, they are flightless and are known as hoppers, it takes four weeks for them to become adults with wings, but their development is faster when the conditions are right, as they are now. They follow the smell of sprouting grass As the food runs out in one location, winged adults send out scent messages which tells the rest in the group to move on.
When these groups merge, they for a swarm. A swarm moves with the wind, as an energy-saving mechanism, this means they are moving towards the area of low pressure where vegetation grows. When swarms meet swarms, they form a plague which has several billions of locusts, formations as wide 65 km. During a plague they can attack as many as 60 countries, impacting 20% of Earth’s land, damaging the economy of 10% of the world population.
An adult locust can eat food equivalent to its weight, which means a swarm of locust of 1 sq. km could eat crop meant 35000 people, which makes them extremely dangerous for our food supply.
Impact on India
In India, during the first half of May, locusts were seen in parts of Rajasthan and by 25th of the same month, they were reported in Jaipur. Now they are attacking farmlands in Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. This is being called the worst Locust attack in the last three decades. India might face food shortage due to this kind of an attack complimenting the Coronavirus pandemic. In 2019 December, Gujarat faced locust swarms which destroyed crops spread over 25000 hectares of land.
This started in the middle east and moved on to Pakistan and then to India. Around 38% of Pakistan’s land is deemed as ‘breeding ground’ for these locusts. Now they could potentially destroy INR 8000 crore worth moong-cereal crops in Madhya Pradesh, India.
To fight off locusts, the farmers are using simple tactics like beating utensils and lighting up wood-fire, but due to the large size of the swarms, these methods will hardly be of any impact. In Jhansi, firemen have been kept ready to spray chemicals on the sights of these Locust.
The locusts disappear very soon after the crops are devoured, which means that this won’t last for long but will have a strong impact on the economy.
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