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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS

GS-III :
  • 14 May, 2020

  • 10 Min Read

Desert Locusts

Desert Locusts

Context

Agriculture Minister Shri Narendra Singh Tomar interacts with Pesticide Industry representatives on the Desert Locust Control.

Central and State Governments are working together on the Desert Locust Control measures and have been able to check its spread. New machines have been ordered from the United Kingdom and will arrive soon.

About Desert Locusts

  • With the arrival of the monsoon, locust swarms enter the Scheduled Desert Areas of India via Pakistan for breeding in the summer of June/ July, but this year, presence of Locust Hoppers was reported from April 11, 2020; and Pink Adult Swarms were reported since April 30 in border Districts of Rajasthan and Punjab, which have been controlled and control operations against new swarms is going on.
  • Desert locusts flourish when arid areas are doused with rain, because they seek to lay their eggs in damp, sandy soil near vegetation that can sustain the young until their wings develop enough for the insects to forage farther afield.
  • Their life cycle consists of three phases: egg, hopper, and adult.

Reasons for its uncontrolled spread

  • One reason for this was the uncontrolled swarms of the previous season in Pakistan that breed continuously.
  • In 2018 and 2019, a series of cyclones that scientists link to unusually warm seas rolled in off the Indian Ocean and soaked a sandy desert in the Arabian Peninsula known as the Empty Quarter. A locust boom followed.
  • Swarms of Pink Immature Adults fly high and travel long distances with strong winds coming from Pakistan.
  • Most of these Pink Immature Adults settle on trees during the night and mostly fly during the day.

Dangers of a Desert Locusts

  • An adult desert locust can munch through its own bodyweight, about 0.07 ounces, of vegetation every day.
  • Swarms can swell to 70 billion insects—enough to blanket New York City more than once—and can destroy 300 million pounds of crops in a single day.
  • Even a more modest gathering of 40 million desert locusts can eat as much in a day as 35,000 people.
  • The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization warns that if they migrate further into agricultural areas, millions of people could face hunger.

Steps taken by the Indian Government to control Desert Locusts

  • The Locust Control Offices are working since April 11, 2020 with 50 spray equipment/vehicles, in coordination with officials of District Administration and State Agriculture Department.
  • Tractor mounted sprayers and fire-tender vehicles deployed at various locations are being used in locust control.
  • A high-level virtual meeting on desert locusts in Southwest Asian countries (Afghanistan, India, Iran and Pakistan) was held on March 11, 2020.
  • States are being made aware of Locust forecasts and advisories are also being issued continuously.
  • So far the Hoppers and Pink Swarms have been controlled in an area of 14,299 hectares of Jaisalmer, Sri Ganganagar, Jodhpur, Barmer and Nagaur districts in Rajasthan and Fazilka district of Punjab. Presently, swarms of immature Pink Locusts are active in Barmer, Phalodi (Jodhpur), Nagaur, Sriganganagar and Ajmer districts of Rajasthan.

Source: PIB/WEB


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