Locusts Blitz - A Substrate of Climate Change
Locusts Swarm is a collection of insects that look alike short-horned grasshopper. It is classified under the Acrididae family who has a swarming phase. The behavior of these insects is solitary but in a certain climate, it becomes gregarious where serotonin in their brain triggers and they start to breed abundantly.
In due time, the Locusts population gets dense and it forms wingless nymph bands and later forms into swarm adults with wings. The swarms move rapidly and damage vegetation wherever it settles. The facts state there around 80 million locusts in one swarm. It turns cannibal when food runs out and devour crops that come in its way. Heavy rains cause locust to hatch more eggs.
The desert locust (Schistocerca gregaria) is the most opprobrious. According to the entomologist’s desert, locust swarms can be 460 square miles in size and pack between 80 million locusts in less than half square miles. They can eat up to their own weight so such swarm can 423 million pounds of plants every day. They are mostly found in Africa, the Middle East, Asia.
Human activity is responsible for climate change which has triggered confluence of events that have caused serious insect infestation. Due to exceptional wet climate and several rare cyclones that struck Arabian and African over the last 18 months are the main culprits. Indian Ocean dipole which results in wetter climate in the West and dries in the Eastern region is one of the reasons that resulted in Australian Bushfires. Due to recurrent cyclones, the outbreak of locust will be more and upheaval the Horn of Africa.
Expert says on the southern Arabian Peninsula known as Empty Quarter, Cyclone Mekunu passed over which resulted in ephemeral lakes over sand dunes, likely responsible for the breeding of locust. The other Cyclone Luban marched in the same region. These two cyclones enabled three generations of wild locust breeding. After this locust begins to migrate. By Summer 2019, it was buzzing over the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden into Ethiopia and Somalia. Eastern Africa was experiencing unusual and intense rainfall and late cyclone in Somalia triggered another reproductive spasm.
As the locusts keep multiplying, they invade other areas. By late December, Swarms arrived in Kenya, rapidly moving in central and northern regions. In January the country experienced its worst infestation in 70 years. Regions Djibouti and Eritrea were affected and in February swarms’ insects started attacking northeast Uganda and northern Tanzania.
The worst outbreak is yet to come, it is believed by June the desert locust will increase its numbers 400 folds compared to today and 13 million people in Somalia, Djibouti, Eritrea, and Kenya are experiencing acute food shortage. East Africa is progressing towards famine.
After research by many scientists, many aid organisations are clambering and now FAO has asked the international community to raise £58 million for pests control operations to protect farmers crops afflicted by Locusts.
Scientists and Climate Information Services for Africa are using tech methods where they are collecting data on the basic wind speed, temperature, and humidity. The model has achieved 90% accuracy in forecasting the future locations of the swarms and spraying in areas where hoppers have been reported. this prediction analysis depicts that the United Nations is aware of what is coming and on the ground, it will be able to deal with it. The locust has marched towards other hotter regions like Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sudan, Oman, Yemen, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia.
The main concern is we need to take imminent measures. As insects continue to multiply in large numbers and it will result in violent hunger and a threat to 3 million lives or more. If the right measures are not taken the situation will be 500 times worse. The opportunity to control this is open and it should be done now.