A Desert Locust, with its yellowish nymphs. A threat to agriculture in Africa and the Mid East

A Desert Locust, with its yellowish nymphs. A threat to agriculture in Africa and the Mid East.
Photo: © Dick Culbert (flickr)

El Niño and tropical cyclones could favour locust surge

FAO warns that heavy rains that fell recently in northwest Africa, the Horn of Africa and Yemen could favour Desert Locust breeding.

Unusually heavy and widespread rains that fell recently in northwest Africa, the Horn of Africa and Yemen could favour Desert Locust breeding, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) warned in November 2015. The FAO stresses that close monitoring is needed over the next six months to prevent the insects from forming destructive swarms.

The locust situation in countries normally affected by Desert Locust remained mostly calm in October, with only small-scale breeding activity detected, FAO experts said. They noted however, that this could change, in part due to the impact of El Niño in Africa and the tropical cyclones Chapala and Megh in the Arabian Peninsula and the Horn of Africa.

The impact of El Niño and the tropical cyclones Chapala and Megh

In the Horn of Africa, above-average rains associated with a very strong El Niño are predicted over northern Somalia during this winter and next spring. If so, ecological conditions will become favourable for breeding on the northwest coast and the Somali plateau.

Heavy rains associated with tropical cyclone Chapala fell in southern coastal and interior areas of Yemen in early November, followed one week later by the tropical cyclone Megh that also affected northeastern Somalia. The torrential rains, which far exceeded the annual average rainfall for the entire year, caused flooding and damage.

In the winter breeding areas along both sides of the Red Sea, seasonal rains began in early October, which is slightly earlier than normal. If the rains continue, there would be sufficient time for two generations of breeding to occur this year in the coastal areas of Sudan, northern Eritrea, southeast Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Yemen.


(FAO/ile)