Argentina Is Facing The Worst Ever Locust Plague In 60 years

January 29
5:32 AM 2016

Argentinean farmers are facing the worst kind of locust plague ever in the last 60 years. Locust, a small grasshopper-like insect, which is generally found solitary, could be seen in swarms during specific seasons that cause serious infestation on crops. If the locust plague is not taken care of appropriately they could salvage the vegetation completely, paving way for devastating starvation and famine.

The locust plague has affected around 1.7m acres in Argentina and the country's agricultural inspection agency has reported that it has contained nearly 31 new outbreaks in at least three states, including, Cordoba, Santiago del Estero and Catamarca, according to The Guardian.

"It's the worst explosion in the last 60 years," Diego Quiroga, the agriculture agency's chief of vegetative protection, said in a telephone interview, noted The New York Times. "It's impossible to eradicate; the plague has already established itself. We're just acting to make sure it's the smallest it can be and does the least damage possible."

The locust plague is the first of its kind since 1954, said Juan Pablo Karnatz, president of a farmers' association in Santiago del Estero. He also said that the government was informed of the first incidence of locust in July, last year, however adequate measures to eradicate the outburst weren't taken back then.

The pockets of locust that first appeared in the southern hemisphere of Argentina during early winter is said to have spread across the northern hemisphere due to favorable climatic conditions. Water from mild rains helped locusts in breeding thereby resulting in extensive increase in the insect population. They reportedly multiplied in huge numbers before the authorities could outbeat the plague, reported Time.

The fumigators allegedly extinguished many pockets of young locusts putting them off from flying. The locusts, however, can hop on the ground even if they cannot fly. But it is not certain if there are any pockets present in the impenetrable, large, dry forests of Argentina.

"We don't know exactly where we're at," said Karnatz, "We may have contained some pockets, but it's not a definitive victory. If they fly, it could be disastrous," he added. 

If there happen to be young locusts growing inside the forest it would be more complicated for the officials to control them. With just 10 days for the insects to grow, mature and attain their average size of 2 inches, it is very likely that they would parade off from the forest in search of food. Such large swarms are way too difficult to be combated and contained.

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