News / Africa

Locust Swarms Forming in West Africa

A locust devouring vegetation in Morocco, July 2004. ©FAO/Giampiero Diana
A locust devouring vegetation in Morocco, July 2004. ©FAO/Giampiero Diana

Multimedia

Audio
TEXT SIZE - +
Joe DeCapua
Four countries in West Africa have been put on alert for the likely arrival of swarms of Desert Locusts. If uncontrolled, a small swarm can eat the same amount of food in one day as 35-thousand people.


Locust swarms are currently forming in Chad, northern Mali and northern Niger. But expert Keith Cressman said they’re not expected to stay there very long.

“As we’re at the end of the rainy season, the vegetation is drying out, conditions are becoming unfavorable for Desert Locusts, the swarms will then move. And they will move in a northerly direction, and we’re expecting them to move towards Libya, Algeria, parts of southern Morocco and northwestern Mauritania” said Cressman, Senior Locust Forecasting Officer for the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization. He described the locusts’ arrival as imminent.

Locusts can be found just about any time of the year in the world’s deserts, but usually in low numbers.

Perceived risk or threat of locust infestations, October 2012.Perceived risk or threat of locust infestations, October 2012.


“However,” he said, “when conditions are extremely favorable – that is, where there are good rains in the desert and there’s natural vegetation that becomes green – those locusts can increase very rapidly in numbers, some 16-fold with every generation. When these locust numbers increase, they change their behavior from that of a solitarius locust to one that becomes part of a group. And they form what we call concentrations of locusts, which is commonly known as swarms.”

The locusts change their appearance, too. Wingless nymphs are normally green when in low numbers, but change to yellow and black in high numbers. Winged adults, which are normally brown, turn a bright pink and those ready to lay eggs are a bright yellow. A swarm can contain tens of millions of locusts.

The FAO has been able to monitor the growing swarms in Niger and Chad. However, Cressman said northern Mali is another matter. Conflict has prevented survey teams from entering the area.

“Unfortunately, northern Mali presents some of the best habitats for the Desert Locust during the summer period, which coincides with the rains -- so basically from June until about October or November,” he said. 

With the wind at its back, a swarm can travel 150 kilometers a day.

Algeria, Mauritania and Morocco are prepared to deal with the expected swarms. Teams are on the ground ready to spray insecticide. The FAO is working with Libya to strengthen its capacity to deal with the locusts following the conflict that overthrew Moammar Ghadafi.

You May Like

Algerians Vote in Presidential Election

There were few media reports of protests and clashes around the country, but so far no significant violence More

Sharks More Evolved than Previously Thought

The discovery could “profoundly affect our understanding of evolutionary history” More

Pakistan Military Asked to Protect Polio Workers

Request comes as authorities say a Taliban ban on vaccinations in 2012 and deadly attacks on anti-polio teams have prevented thousands of children from getting inoculated More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid