As if pandemics, earthquakes, explosions, shoot-outs, a hurricane and a super-cyclone weren't sufficient for the world to be grappling with, huge swarms of locusts are actually threatening meals provides within the second-most populous nation on this planet, India. They have reached as far as Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, after entering from Pakistan in April. State agencies, farmers and central teams have been spraying Malathion-96 organophosphate insecticide on the swarms at night during control operations. "It was just waves and waves of invasion", said Keith Cressman, Senior Locust Forecasting Expert at the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations.
On Monday, the swarms descended on Jaipur, a city of some three million people, with eyewitness video from the area showing the full horror of the invasion. "The current heatwave condition and delayed monsoon onset can be a blessing in disguise to control the locust breeding", said Mohanty.
There is an existing institutionalised mechanism for cooperation on such matters between India and Pakistan, including regular border meetings between Pakistani and Indian officers tasked with controlling the locust attack, the official noted.
Desert locusts devour massive quantities of vegetation - wild plants, shrubs, trees and grass, as well as food crops.
"There is a possibility that the locusts will move towards Delhi in the next few days if wind speeds and directions are favourable".
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This is, in some ways, a continuation of the original storm of locusts that had hit moved from the horn of Africa eastwards towards India previous year. The kind of locusts swarming in India are desert locusts from the grasshopper family and are more devastating than other species of locusts.
When the numbers of locusts grow, they become gregarious in habit and stay collectively in dense groups. Climate change has been partly blamed for the outbreak.
India has reached out to Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan and Africa for a joint effort at the global level to contain the spread of locust which pose a major threat to food security in the region.
The federal and state agricultural departments have been using chemical sprays to battle the locusts. Drones have been used to track the hordes, and the deployment of specialized fire tenders equipped with pesticide is being considered.
A vast population in Africa, the Middle East and Asia has been afflicted with a swarm of desert locusts of biblical proportions, which threatens to raze vast swathes of crops.
With the locusts coming earlier during the dry season, they are moving farther from the bare desert region near the border to interior areas with vegetation.