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Unusual Locusts attack in urban areas of India

  • IASbaba
  • May 29, 2020
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Unusual Locusts attack in urban areas of India

Part of: GS-Prelims and GS-III – Climate change; Food security

In News:

  • There have been unusual sightings of swarms of locusts even in urban areas of Rajasthan, parts of Madhya Pradesh and Vidarbha region of Maharashtra.

Key takeaways 

  • The desert locust (Schistocerca gregaria) is a short-horned grasshopper.
  • It is usually harmless when it is unaccompanied. 
  • However, locusts undergo a behavioural change when their population builds up rapidly.
  • They form huge swarms that can travel up to 150 km per day, eating up every bit of greenery on their way.
  • These insects feed on a large variety of crops.
  • They can threaten the food security of a country.
  • In India, locusts are normally sighted during July- October along the Pakistan border.
  • Their early arrival can be attributed to the following factors:
    • Cyclonic storms Mekunu and Luban that had struck Oman and Yemen respectively in 2018 had turned large deserts tracts into lakes which facilitated locust breeding. 
    • Swarms attacking crops in East Africa reached peak populations from November 2019.
    • The population increased in southern Iran and Pakistan since the beginning of 2020. 
    • Heavy rains in East Africa in March-April enabled further breeding.
    • The swarms were aided by high-speed wind and thus they made their way to such urban areas.
  • Their growth can be controlled by spraying insecticide on locusts’ night resting places like trees.
  • Till date, the Locust Warning Organisation (LWO) has carried out spraying operations in Rajasthan. 
  • India has also ordered for specialised insecticide sprayers with the UK. 
  • Drones will also be used to spray the resting places.

Important value additions 

Locust Warning Organisation (LWO) 

  • It comes under the Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare. 
  • It is responsible for monitoring, survey and control of Desert Locust in Scheduled Desert Areas mainly in the States of Rajasthan and Gujarat.

Image source: Click here 

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