• A ‘Swarmageddon’ of Locusts Decends Upon India's Capital

    NEW DELHI — A miles-long cloud of locusts swarmed India’s capital region over the weekend, flying through metro stations and playgrounds, invading sugar cane fields and threatening major losses to the agriculture sector at a time when coronavirus restrictions have already caused the loss of millions of jobs.

    Indian officials have struggled for weeks to contain the country’s worst locust invasion in decades, as the insects have moved from western regions to the New Delhi area and farther east to Nepal despite efforts to douse crops with pesticides and kill swarms using drones. More than a half-dozen Indian states have been affected.

    In a year punctuated by cyclones, heat waves, surging coronavirus infections and overwhelmed hospitals, scientists warn that the locusts could push agrarian parts of India to the brink of disaster, severely disrupting food supplies and slashing earnings for millions of struggling farmers.

    Hari Chand Sharma, a prominent Indian entomologist and agriculture scientist, said the number of locusts in the country could top a trillion if the spread were not checked. He blamed foreign nations for not doing more to stop the insects from traversing large parts of Africa, Asia and the Middle East this year.

    “There were hardly any containment measures taken at all,” he said, noting that India had weathered around 20 locust swarms this year, about 10 times the average. He said that coronavirus restrictions may have played a role in the inaction, but that governments had been lax in the past, too.

    India’s locust problem began when millions of the insects flew in from Pakistan and Iran a few months ago. Scientists say unusually warm water in the Indian Ocean triggered heavy rains over East Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, creating ideal conditions for desert locusts and leading to serious infestations in countries like Kenya and Somalia.

    In India, after hungry swarms crossed into the state of Rajasthan, officials mounted pesticide sprayers on hundreds of tractors in an effort to save farms. In a single day, a modestly sized swarm can eat as much food as 35,000 people and travel more than 100 miles.

    Strong winds in recent weeks have blown the locusts farther into India, dispersing the insects across the northern plains. For several hours on Saturday, thick swarms darkened the skies over the outskirts of New Delhi and in Gurugram, a neighboring city.

    Local officials placed the capital region under “high alert.” Residents set off fireworks, banged kitchen utensils and blasted music from their balconies to chase away the locusts. The Times of India, a leading newspaper, called the attack “swarmageddon.”

    “The sky was almost invisible,” said Madhusudan Satija, who was outside his apartment building in Gurugram when the swarm passed. “It was so terrible. They were sticking to the building wall like a thick layer of wet mud.”

    Initial damage assessments were modest. Officials in the state of Haryana, which includes Gurugram, said only a few thousand acres of crops had been damaged.

    But as a new planting season nears, farmers worry that more than 200 million acres of rice, sugar cane, cotton and soybeans could be decimated. In parts of Rajasthan, more than 60 percent of crops have been damaged, and a government relief package has covered only a small fraction of farmers, according to local news outlets.

    The coronavirus has complicated efforts to stop the locusts. With confirmed infections topping 500,000 nationwide and many cities still under partial lockdowns, officials have strained to keep supply chains open and enforce locust containment measures across state borders.

    Opposition politicians have seized on the lapses and accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government of negligence.

    Randeep Surjewala, a spokesman for the opposition Indian National Congress party, said insurance companies were refusing to compensate farmers for their losses because the central government had not classified locust swarms as natural disasters.

    Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, a minister in Mr. Modi’s cabinet, shot back over the weekend, chastising the Congress party as using the locust crisis to “turn disaster into anarchy.”

    “In the time of a calamity, there is torment by locusts and losers, and both should be dealt with strongly,” he said.

    With the monsoon season looming, Dr. Sharma, the entomologist, said the next few months would be critical. As heavy rains nourish the soil and the locusts begin to breed, he said, officials will need to move aggressively against the insects. Even then, their efforts may not be enough.

    “They practically feed on anything,” Dr. Sharma said. “First they eat leaves, and then fruiting bodies like maize, seeds, parts of legumes, flowers, young fruits. If they still persist, they will damage future crops of lentils in Rajasthan, and in Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.”

    “No crops are left standing when swarms attack,” he added.

  • Biblical Locust Plague Darkens the Skies over Argentina and Paraguay

    Argentina is being invaded by a locust plague of biblical proportions, devouring everything on its path.

    The biblical swarm of more than 40 millions of locusts have crossed from neighbouring Paraguay and are currently sweeping through the northern region of Argentina.

    Videos taken by local residents show the terrifying scene as the insects completely block out the driver’s view on the road.

    Motorists had to drive carefully as thousands of locusts flew past at a low altitude, hitting their windscreens.

    Another clip captures the locusts sweeping through the regions in northern Argentina.

    Lanteri community president Pipo Garcia told local media that the swarm is “astonishing” and that he has never seen anything like it.

    From Paraguay

    The swarms have passed through the Argentine provinces of Chaco and Formosa after crossing from Paraguay, according to reports.

    The National Service of Agri-Food Health and Quality (SENASA) said the swarm was passing through the province of Chaco on Tuesday.

    SENASA and several witnesses posted videos of the swarm of locusts on social media showing them filling the air over fields and roads in the region.

    According to local media, they belong to a species of locust in the subfamily Cyrtacanthacridinae which have an insatiable appetite for crops of wheat, corn and oats used for cattle.

    On Wednesday morning, the locusts reportedly passed through the municipalities of Villa Ocampo and Villa Guillermina in Santa Fe, travelling at around 100 kilometres (62 miles) a day.

    SENASA said this swarm is capable of devouring the same amount of crops as 2,500 people per day.

    Last month, the National Service of Vegetal Health of Paraguay informed SENASA about the presence of locusts on its border with Argentina.

    Meanwhile, Africa is facing a probable third wave of locust invasion in 6 months:

  • Biblical Locust Swarm Threatens South and Central America

    Millions of locust are now about 100 kilometers (62 miles) from the Rio Grande do Sul state border.

    But wind currents on Wednesday may take the insects into Brazil, Celso Oliveira, a meteorologist at Somar Meteorologia in São Paulo, said by text.

    The swarm could harm wheat, canola and barley crops in the western part of the state, as well as native vegetation, he said.

    In late June, Brazil’s Agriculture Ministry declared a state of emergency in two southern states to allow officials to take precautions.

    The locusts have remained in Argentine territory since then, after arriving from Paraguay in May. A second cloud is in Paraguay, about 300 kilometers from the border, Argentine officials said Thursday.

    While the phenomena has always been present in South America, excessive dryness and warmer temperatures this year have seem them thrive. The most recent invasions in Argentina were in 2019 and 2017.

    And according to the following videos, the locusts seem to move towards north and start invading countries like Colombia:


    San Salvador:


    Massive swarms of locusts have ravaged fields in Africa and Pakistan, destroying crops and dealing a crippling blow to economies.

    Locusts are migratory, able to travel as many as 150 kilometres in a day. They have been known to cross from one province to another, or even from one country to another, in a few hours.

  • Bubonic Plague Found in Colorado

    Public health officials have announced that a squirrel in Colorado has tested positive for the bubonic plague.

    This is the first case of plague in the town of Morrison, Colorado, in Jefferson County, which is just west of Denver.

    Plague is an infectious disease caused by the bacteria Yersinia pestis, and can be contracted by humans and household animals if proper precautions are not taken,” officials from Jefferson County Public Health (JCPH) said in a statement released to the public.

    It is possible for humans to be infected with the bubonic plague through bites from infected fleas and by direct contact with blood or tissues of infected animals such as a cough or a bite.

    Jefferson County Public Health said that cats arehighly susceptible to the plague from things like flea bites, a rodent scratch or bite, and ingesting an infected rodent. Cats can die if not treated quickly with antibiotics after contact with the plague.

    Officials also said that dogs are not as susceptible to the plague as cats are but still may pick up and carry plague-infected rodent fleas. Any pet owner who suspects that their pet is ill should contact a veterinarian immediately.

    Symptoms of plague may include sudden onset of high fever, chills, headache, nausea and extreme pain and swelling of lymph nodes, occurring within two to seven days after exposure. Plague can be effectively treated with antibiotics when diagnosed early. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should consult a physician,” said JCPH.

    Risk for contracting the bubonic plague is extremely low as long as the proper precautions are taken, like:

    • eliminating all sources of food, shelter and access for wild animals around the home
    • not feeding wild animals
    • maintaining a litter and trash-free yard to reduce wild animal habitats
    • people and pets should avoid all contact with sick or dead wild animals and rodents
    • using precaution when handling sick pets and having them examined by a veterinarian
    • consulting with a veterinarian about flea and tick control for pets
    • keeping pets from roaming freely outside the home where they may prey on wild animals and bring the disease home with them.

  • Disease Ridden Horse Flies Invade U.K. Parks and Gardens

    Brits are having to battle hordes of disease-ridden horse flies that have invaded parks and gardens in the UK.

    The half-inch long flies, which usually are found in the country have invaded the cities during the lockdown, congregating around pools, ponds, and gardens.

    And urbanites are feeling the sting. Some people who were bitten required hospitalization and a round of antibiotics. The bites can also lead to cellulitis, a skin infection.

    The large flies who strike without warning are “literally designed to eat a horse, their bite is both impressive and painful. […] They can persistently chase you at a flying speed of around 15 mph, and it’ll bite right through clothes. It has mandibles that can rip and tear flesh apart.

    Unfortunately, the flies, which thrive in hot and humid conditions are expected to multiply with upcoming thunderstorms predicted. So have your insect bite remedies around.

  • Giant Locust Swarm Invading China

    Chinese officials have warned that parts of the country could be ravaged by a locust plague between now and September after armies of the insects already ‘invaded’ the country.

    Swarms of yellow-spined bamboo locusts have destroyed about 26 square miles of fields in Pu’er after raiding the city from China’s border with Laos, the local government said. 

    The locusts are reported crossing China’s border from Laos. Local government warns a major impending locust plague between now and September.

    The Pu’er forestry authority issued a disaster control warning, predicting a potential locust ‘disaster’ in China’s southern border regions after the spread of the pests ‘accelerated’ last Thursday. 

    Chinese officials have warned about a looming locust plague in the country after yellow-spined bamboo locusts invaded a city in south-western Chinese province Yunnan since June 28.

    The locust is the main pest of China’s bamboo-producing regions as it devours all the bamboo leaves in its paths while killing off the commercially valuable stalks.

    Pu’er government said in a notice on Thursday: ‘The invasion of the yellow-spined bamboo locusts from abroad is accelerating. We can detect new clusters invading every day.

    The large infestation of the pests is also possibly spreading to nearby counties and pose a risk of damaging agricultural crops, the officials warned. 

    Footage released by Pear Video shows swarms of the insects flying across the sky in the city’s Jiangcheng county, which borders with Laos.

    The neighbouring country of China has been ravaged by the yellow-spined bamboo locusts since late March, according to local media.

    The Pu’er authorities said that they first detected the pest invasion along the border between Pu’er and Laos on June 28.

    Since then, the city has continued to spot new clusters every, said the forestry officials in a notice yesterday.

    Based on initial research and judgement, there is a high possibility of a disaster of yellow-spined bamboo locust escalating in border regions between July to September,‘ the authorities warned.

    An estimated total of 6,593 hectares of land has been ravaged by the grasshoppers, the Pu’er government said.

    The officials have conducted over 500 drone flights to carry out pest control efforts over nearly 3,000 hectares of land.

  • Gigantic Swarms of Mayflies Invade Mississippi River Towns

    A massive swarm of mayflies, detected by National Weather Service weather radar starting after 9 p.m. Thursday, invaded downtown Burlington, Iowa along the Mississippi River.

    Piles of flies were inches deep in spots.

    The insect swarms are coming up the Mississippi, towards the Twin Cities.

    Right now, areas south of the Twin Cities metro are dealing with bug problems after a massive swarm of mayflies hatched from the Mississippi River.

    The mayflies also made an impact on WCCO’s weather radar:

    In Hastings, residents are also reporting problems with the bugs. In response, city officials have decided to shut off street and parking lot lights in the downtown area, as well as along the bridge and riverfront, starting Thursday night through the weekend.

    Parts of the south metro are dealing with bug problems recently after a massive swarm of mayflies hatched from the Mississippi River.

    Thursday, things were quiet in Hastings but remnants left behind, including large piles of flies, were evidence of a very active night.

    I got closer and closer and all of a sudden I was like ‘oh my gosh, that is not dirt’ and I just saw all these bugs and the ones in the pile they’re all clumped up in these huge hills,” said Andrea Egan.

    It’s what happens this time of year along the river mayflies hatching, reproducing, laying eggs and then dying – all in about a day.

    I am usually not scared of bugs but I’m like nope, not when they outnumber me,” she said.

    The City of Hastings is used to what happens here each year and they try to get ahead of the swarm.

    What we do is a proactive step is we turn all the lights off when we have the first inclination of this hatch coming and that does a lot to mitigate or lessen the attraction,” said Hastings Director of Public Works Nick Egger.

    As recently as 2016 we did have to get out our shovels and snowblowers and street sweepers to pick up some pretty large piles and accumulations of them,” said Eggers.

    So far, it hasn’t been that bad but Wednesday night’s hatch could be just the start.

    And the invasion seems worse in Canada:

    Sometimes it’s been one larger hatch,” Eggers added. “Sometimes it’s been two or three moderate ones. It’s really been all over the board.

  • Locust plague is ravaging East Africa, Middle East and India

    Massive swarms of locust continue to devastate huge swaths of East Africa, the Middle East, and India since January, threatening food supplies for millions. In a worst-case scenario, 5 million more people may go hungry due to the outbreak -- that's on top of the 20 million that are already food insecure. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported that although about 450 billion pests have been killed so far, the battle against the crop-destroying insects is far from over.

    In a situation update issued by FAO on June 20, an increasing number of second-generation immature swarms is reported to have been forming in northwest Kenya.

    In Sudan, no locusts are present except for isolated adults in the Nile Valley. If the rains are lacking, the invading swarms may continue to eastern Chad and migrate across the Sahel of West Africa.

    Control operations are ongoing in Ethiopia and parts of Somalia. In Saudi Arabia, control operations are also in progress against hopper bands in the southwest near Najran and adult insects in the Asir Mountains.

    In Yemen, hopper bands are present in the interior, and highly mobile swarms are heading highland and in the southern coastal areas. Some of the swarms may migrate to northern Somalia and northeast Ethiopia.

    In Oman, adult groups and a few swarms laid eggs in the Dhofar hills. Meanwhile, in Southwest Asia, breeding has ended in southern Iran and southwest Pakistan where locust infestations are declining due to control operations along the Indo-Pakistan border.

    However, spring-bred adult groups and swarms continue to appear along the border, many of which have continued further east into several states of northern India as monsoon rains have not yet arrived in Rajasthan.

    The infestations are forecast to return to Rajasthan with the onset of rains to rapidly mature and lay eggs.

    FAO remarked that Sudan, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Pakistan, and India should remain on high alert in the next four weeks, while West Africa should continue taking proactive measures.

    Without intervention, locusts may leave millions of people in 23 countries to go hungry by December this year.

    In a worst-case scenario, FAO noted that an additional 5 million people will go hungry because of the infestations-- this is on top of the 20 million that are already food insecure.

    "It's about 450 billion insects that we killed since the beginning of the year," said Cyril Ferrand, FAO's head of resilience team in East Africa, pointing out that authorities managed to contain the insects by spraying pesticides.

    However, funding only goes until the end of August, so continuous aid is necessary to keep the swarms contained. "There is a real risk here that all our efforts since January are in vain," he added.

    FAO’s locust forecasting expert Keith Cressman told The Guardian that the weather will greatly affect how long the crisis continues, and which countries will be impacted.

    "It’s not a problem that starts in one place and ends in one place, it’s a rolling emergency."

  • Massive Swarm of Locusts Invades Italy

    Millions of locusts have caused devastation after descending on Sardinia.

    Several mayors in the region declared a state of natural disaster and called for immediate action.

    In a situation reminiscent of a biblical plague, voracious locusts have stripped large areas of the island’s agricultural regions of crops, in what the World Bank has already been branded the most serious such invasion the world has faced in 70 years.

    The epicentre is formed by the municipalities of Orani, Ottana and Bolotana in the Tirso valley, with insects having arrived from the Middle East and Africa, where 23 countries have experienced similar problems.

    Farmers have limited options when it comes to mitigating the damage caused by the vast numbers of locusts, other than burning fields to destroy the pests.

    Franco Saba, Mayor of Ottana, said: “Current damages must be compensated and preventive action has taken place to prevent the phenomenon from happening again in the next few years.

    With the situation still unfolding, the cost of the damage is still unknown – but Mr Saba suggested it would run into millions of euros.

    Speaking towards the end of last month, one farmer based in Bolotana in the centre of Sardinia said: “When the locusts arrived in mid-May, my cabbages were small, it wasn’t harvest time yet, they were all still in the field. Then the swarm came through, started to devour all the leaves, leaving only the stem.

    Instead of abandoning the crop to them, I preferred to pick it in advance and donate it to a charity for people in need.

    Ignazio Floris, an entomologist at the University of Sassari, said depopulation, climate trends and rising temperatures were all factors.

    He explained: “In recent years we have seen bizarre and particularly dry weather conditions in Sardinia in spring and summer and this is certainly one of the predisposing factors that has favored this phenomenon.

    Mr Floris added: “This year the invaded areas have been mapped – a good prerequisite for intervention in due course for the next year.

    Ultimately, the prevalence of locusts may be linked to the pandemic.

    Speaking in April, the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said coronavirus-linked flight restrictions were hampering efforts to wipe out locust swarms on the verge of devastating crops in eastern Africa, which, partly as a result, have spread to Europe.

    Cyril Ferrand, FAO’s head of resilience for Eastern Africa, said: “If we fail in the current control operations, because of lack of pesticides, then we could see four million more people struggle to feed their families.

    He warned: “They are very active, very voracious, and very mobile.

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