What are these locusts destroying crops in Rajasthan
Huge swarms of locusts are attacking farms and fields in northwest India. Billions of the insects are moving through Rajasthan toward Delhi, Haryana, Punjab and even as far as Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, destroying crops in the worst locust invasion in over 25 years.
What are locusts?
Locusts are grasshoppers. Normally grasshoppers don’t travel in groups and so they do little harm. But when there are lots of them, their bodies and behavior change. That’s when they become locusts. Locusts travel in huge groups, laying eggs along the way, which produce even more locusts.
Swarms of locusts can do incredible damage to crops and other plants. The insects eat their own weight – 2 grams – in food each day. Experts say that in a single day, a small swarm of the insects can eat as much food as 35,000 people.
The swarms in India aren’t small.
Why have they come?
Experts say climate change may be making the locust invasions worse. Locust swarms are more common after heavy rains, since the insects lay their eggs in wet ground. There have been extremely heavy rains from the Indian Ocean this year, and it has been warmer than usual.
Many countries in Eastern African countries like Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia are also struggling with locust swarms, where the invasions started last year. Recently East African countries have been hit by a second, stronger wave of the insects.
But the locusts in India came from Iran and Pakistan.
How to fight them?
The main method of controlling the locusts is with pesticides. On the ground, workers are using tractors, fire engines, and other equipment to spray the insects. The government is also using drones to track and spray the locusts from the air.