Indian crops and vegetation are under severe attacks by millions of desert locust after 27 years. Till now, these locust have spread across Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh and threatening damage to crops. 

Although these locust don’t bite humans or animals, they can potentially eat everything else and destroy the crops. So here’s why you should worry about them.   

What are locust swarms?   

Locust are insects that belong to the family of grasshoppers. They travel in large swarms which can devastate crops and cause major agricultural damage, which can lead to famine and starvation. They are known as the most dangerous of the migratory pests in the world and they have intensified due to climate change. 

Why are they dangerous? 

Locust can cause a lot of devastation. They can destroy flowers, fruits, leaves, seeds, bark, and growing points. It is said that a small swarm of the desert locust eats as much food in one day as about 10 elephants, 25 camels, or 2,500 people. In a day, they can destroy crops meant for over 35,000 people.

A single female lays about 95-158 eggs which multiply really quickly. Females can lay at least three times in their lifetime usually at intervals of about 6-11 days. So, just imagine the amount of destruction they can cause just by eating. 

In the past, has there been damage due to a locust swarm in India? 

According to reports, during the 1926-31 plague cycle, swarms of locust damaged crops worth Rs 10 crore. During the 1940-46 and 1949-55 locust plague cycles, the damage was estimated at Rs 2 crore per cycle, and at Rs 50 lakh during the last locust plague cycle which was between 1959-1962. 

The government records have also mentioned that 190 locust swarms had attacked an area of about 3,10,000 hectares in Jaisalmer, Barmer, Bhuj, and Jalore districts of Rajasthan in 1993. 

What is happening in India currently and how severe can it get? 

This swarm has entered India, originated from breedings in Baluchistan, Iran and Pakistan. These locust have already destroyed crops in 18 districts in Rajasthan and districts of Madhya Pradesh. It is reported that due to the favourable weather conditions they are breeding 400 times more. Districts in the state including Aligarh, Mathura and Jhansi will be hit by this swarm in a couple of weeks.

Why should we care about this? 

Swarms of locust will wipe out lakhs of food grains and vegetables meant for human consumption. This, in addition to a possible lack of food grains and vegetables can lead to a fresh economic crisis. 

How is India taking charge of the situation? 

Farmers are trying to smoke these insects out and are trying to scare them away by making loud noises or spraying chemicals. India’s specialized Locust Warning Organisation is monitoring and planning for locust eradication. Chemicals are also being sprayed on the crops at regular intervals. 

This is an emergency situation and the government needs to act on it as soon as possible.    

Information sourced from Food & Agricultural OrganisationThe QuintIndia Today