Desert Locusts.
Photo: ©FAO/Carl de Souza

21.02.2019

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Desert Locust outbreak in northeast Africa and Saudi Arabia triggered by heavy rains, FAO warns. Increased vigilance, strict monitoring and early control needed to prevent further swarms forming and spreading along both sides of the Red Sea.

Heavy rains and cyclones have triggered a recent surge in Desert Locust populations, causing an outbreak to develop in Sudan and Eritrea that is rapidly spreading along both sides of the Red Sea to Saudi Arabia and Egypt, FAO warned in mid-February 2019.  The UN agency called on all the affected countries to step-up vigilance and control measures to contain the destructive infestations and protect crops from the world's most dangerous migratory pest.  
 
Desert Locusts are a major threat to crop production. Adult locust swarms can fly up to 150 km a day with the wind. Female locusts can lay 300 eggs within their lifetime while an adult insect can consume roughly its own weight in fresh food per day - about two grams every day. A very small swarm eats the same amount of food in one day as about 35,000 people and the devastating impact locusts can have on crops poses a major threat to food security, especially in already vulnerable areas.

Substantial increase in locust populations

Good rains along the Red Sea coastal plains in Eritrea and Sudan have allowed two generations of breeding since October, leading to a substantial increase in locust populations and the formation of highly mobile swarms.

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