During Covid19, India gears up to face another challenge – The Desert Locust Swarm attacking its food crops. While this may seem to be Biblical in proportions, Scientists say that this is a natural phenomenon aggravated by Climate Change with hopes to minimize the damage.
What type of insect is a Desert Locust?
The Desert Locust belongs to the Acrididae family of grasshoppers. Now what makes this different and dangerous from regular grasshopper is their ability to travel in swarms over long distances. A typical swarm of 1 Square Kilometre size can have anywhere up to 150 Million locusts and they can travel more than 100 km in a single day.
While being harmless to humans and Animals, these swarms of locusts have a voracious appetite for food crops. A single locust eats its body weight equivalent of food in a single day, this can translate to a single swarm eating food that can feed 35,000 people in a single day, for every day they travel.
Why are the Desert Locust Swarm attacks worst than ever before?
These locusts need flat surfaces to lay their eggs and hence they are typically found in arid/semi-arid regions like Deserts and dry regions. These swarms grow in size when the climate conditions are favorable to them with enough vegetation to sustain their size.
Due to climate change, it’s been raining heavily in the usual dry regions including areas of Africa and Asia. Coupled with that, These swarms are getting carried away by the Strong westerly, Monsoon winds sweeping across the region. This is further troublesome because these swarms are swept into green lands and are wreaking havoc with India’s crop farms.
What are the measures taken to be taken to control the Desert Locust menace?
The Indian Government has been monitoring the swarm movements and is taking precautionary steps to control them. It has ordered special sprayers from the United Kingdom and allowed the use of drones to spray pesticides in the swarm affected areas of Rajasthan, Punjab, Gujarat, and Madhya Pradesh.
The Indian government has placed orders for special vehicles and pesticide reserves for the affected regions. The Locust Warning Organization has begun spraying extremely diluted amounts of Malathion 96 and Chlorpyrifos in specific areas where swarms are present. This controlled application is believed to mitigate the current damage done by the Desert Locusts and prevent them from laying eggs. The government authorities are trying to prevent a second wave of attack in month of July since the Indian cropping season begins at that time with the onset of Monsoons rains.
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