Massive swarms of locusts invade Saudi Arabia

Massive swarms of locusts invade Saudi Arabia

Vast swarms of locusts are invading agricultural areas across Saudi Arabia after countries in the Horn of Africa struggled with the biggest outbreak in decades.

The swarm was confirmed to be from East Africa, according to Mohamad Al-Shammrani, director of combating locusts at the Ministry of Environment, Agriculture, and Water.

The swarms were reported in four Saudi regions namely Riyadh, Qassim, Hail, and the Eastern Province. Authorities in the country said they have doubled the daily aerial sprayings to contain the insects. 

Crops that were ravaged by locusts in Jazan, Asir, Al-Baha, Al-Leith, Qunfodah, and Makkah are being fought by specialized teams. The environmental conditions in these regions allowed the insects to grow and lay eggs.

"We’ve combated locusts on a daily basis from the beginning of January to the end. We exterminated the first generation of the swarms, which attacked Jazan all the way to the Makkah region," said Al-Shammrani.

"We targeted two swarms of locusts in Qunfodah and Al-Leith."

Wind movement also heavily influenced where locusts end up. This is what helped huge swarms spread across the regions of Al-Qassim, Hail, and the Eastern Province. Combat teams said they have been working persistently to track the movement of swarms and conduct aerial sprayings.

"We use spraying aircraft in rugged areas and terrain. All the insecticides are approved by the Food and Agriculture Organization," said Al-Shammrani.

Locusts have the tendency to multiply during rainy weather, especially in areas high in humidity. Dry conditions followed by wet conditions-- drought followed by heavy rains, for instance-- also create breeding grounds for locusts, which is what exactly happened to African countries affected by the outbreak.

Featured image credit: Desert Locust CRC

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