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Locusts Swarms in India: What are Locusts & its Plague; How are they Harmful & Control Measures - Explained

Locusts Attack in India: Know here what is meaning of Locusts, what is locust plague, how they form swarms, how do locusts look, what they eat, how they damage the crops and agriculture. Know measures taken for locusts control and everything about Locusts.

May 29, 2020 16:44 IST
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Locusts Attack in India: Large swarms of Desert Locusts have entered India's Rajasthan through Pakistan in search of crops and greenery to satisfy their hunger. The locusts swarms began from Iran in 2019, migrating to Pakistan and now have entered India in Rajasthan, Punjab, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. These desert locusts have already infested areas of North & Central India and are slowly moving towards Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and Maharashtra.

While India is already battling the consequences of novel Coronavirus on its economy, locust attack or plague could further devastate its agricultural economy and risk India's food security. This is the worst ever locusts attack in last three decades. The Locust Warning Organisation has suggested for the use of drones for sprinkling chemicals in Rajasthan to kill the locust.

Let's now have a look at some important questions that answer everything about locusts:

Key facts about Locusts

Desert Locusts are one of the most dangerous migratory pests.

They are known for damaging and consuming everything in their path especially all green areas.

Desert Locusts typically move in swarms and each swarm consists of 150 million locusts in every square kilometre.

They feed on green vegetation such as fodder, crops and pasture.

A locust swarm in one square kilometre can destroy crops meant for consumption by over 35,000 people in a day.

Abnormally heavy rains last year, which scientists say were made more likely by the long-term warming of the Indian Ocean, a hallmark of climate change, have exacerbated a locust infestation across eastern Africa.

Higher temperatures invite locusts to spread to areas with suitable climate and damage farms and pastures.

They are highly adaptive to different weather and regions. They change their behaviour on the basis of weather and region.

Q1. What are Desert Locusts?

Answer: The Desert Locust is one of the species of grasshopper family and is known as Schistocerca gregaria (Forskal) scientifically. They move in swarms and are highly mobile.

Q2. How do locusts look like?

Answer: Locusts look like grasshoppers and differ from them by being short-horned, adaptive and migratory in nature.

Locusts

Q3. What is the life span of a locust?

Answer: The life span of a locust is just 90 days.

Q4. What do locusts eat or feed on?

Answer: Desert locusts are insatiable eaters; they consume food equal to their body weight in a day. They feed on green and leafy plants. farm lands, green crops and pastures. They eat only in day time.

Q5. How do locusts breed?

Answer: Locusts breed in suitable weather and regions. They breed with very high fertility as they feed. Locusts increase their population by 16000 times in just 3 breeding seasons.

Q6. What is Locust Plague?

Answer: A dense group of locusts is known as swarm. When these locusts swarms attack the crops and disturb agricultural economy, it is known as locust plague.

Q7. Are Locusts harmful or dangerous?

Answer: Yes, locusts are harmful for crops and food security. Otherwise, they are harmless insect.

Q8. Can locusts be killed?

Answer: Yes, locusts can be killed with organophosphate chemicals and pesticides. As they eat in daylight only, they are a easy prey at night.

Q9. How Desert Locusts migrate?

Answer: Desert Locusts move with the wind. They fly at a speed of about 16-19 km/h on the basis of wind. They cover around 5 km to 130 km in a day.

Q10. Which ministries/departments of India are involved in the locust control?

Answer: The Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Ministry of External Affairs, Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Earth Sciences, Ministry of Civil Aviation and other stakeholders such as State Governments and farmers get involved in the locust control.

Q11. What measures have been taken by Government for Locusts Control in India?

Vehicles deployed to spray for Locusts Control: Government has already deployed 89 fire brigades; 47 control vehicles; 120 survey vehicles and 810 tractors to spray pesticides for effective locust control.

Procurement of 60 more sprayers: Union Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers welfare has approved procurement of 60 more sprayers from the United Kingdom for spraying the chemicals to stop invasion of locust swarms in the fields.

Use of Drones: The Union Ministry of Civil Aviation gave approval to DPPQS to deploy Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (drones) for containing the locusts plague. Two companies have been roped in to spray pesticides through the drones.

Locusts Control Operations in affected States: Government has undertaken locusts control operations in affected states including Punjab (1 district), Rajasthan (21 districts), Gujarat (2 districts) and Madhya Pradesh (18 district).

Alert issued in states likely to attract locusts swarms: The Government has issued alert in the states where locusts are likely to affect crops including Uttar Pradesh and Indo-Pakistan Border.

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