Swarms of desert locusts have crossed into India’s western states from Pakistan in early May. From there, the swarms traveled into central India. Due to some of the crops already being harvested, the hungry insects have pushed into urban areas to gorge on bushes and trees. The small invaders number in the millions, darkening the skies of over half a dozen states in India and overwhelming the citizens protecting their greenery. According to the Locust Warning Organization’s deputy director, eight to 10 swarms, each measuring around 1 sq. km, have been active in parts of India. Locusts have destroyed vital crops in some parts of Rajasthan close to the border with Pakistan before, but it is rare for them to migrate further into the state. Experts have warned that the current locust plague could worsen with more locusts expected to reach India via Pakistan from the Horn of Africa in June. The desert locust is a large grasshopper that flies and migrates in enormous swarms. It is considered the most destructive migratory pest in the world because of its speed and ability to multiply rapidly. Adult locusts can travel up to 150 km a day and devour fresh vegetation equal to their body weight of 2 g. A swarm of locusts can range from one to several hundred sq. km, with each sq. km containing around 80 million adult locusts. According to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), a swarm of 40 million locusts can consume as much as 35,000 people in a single day. Roxy Mathew Koll, the senior scientist at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, has stated that this outbreak of desert locusts occurred after the warm waters in the western Indian Ocean in late 2019 spurred heavy rains and cyclones over east Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. In other words, the unusually warm weather from global warming had brought in more rain, which in turn triggered the growth of vegetation in arid areas, creating the perfect breeding grounds for the desert locusts. The locust plague in 2020 has been particularly difficult to control. Normally, the locust swarms enter the desert area of India through Pakistan for breeding during June or July. However, this year has seen early incursions of locusts due to the residual presence of locusts in Pakistan that could not be controlled last season. Various methods have been carried out by both the government and the citizens to combat the plague of locusts. Drones, fire trucks, tractors, and other such vehicles have been used to disperse the flying insects by spraying water and pesticides. Civilians have been driving bugs away by making whatever loud noise they could create. Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic has impeded efforts by the community. Pakistan, India, Afghanistan, and Iran have decided to work together to combat the locust swarms. These countries decided to revive communications between the regional countries through the FAO. Each country has agreed to exchange information, increase coordination at the borders, and enhance synchronization while fighting the locust plague in the region.
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1. What have experts warned about the current locust plague?
2. Why is the desert locust considered the most destructive migratory pest in the world?
3. What are some of the various methods that have been carried out by both the Indian government and the citizens to combat the plague of locusts?
1. Can you summarize the article?
2. What do you think about the current locust plague that has happened in India?
3. Other than methods mentioned in the article, what are some other ways that can help the Indian government and the citizens combat the current locust plauge?
4. Do you know any other characteristics about desert locusts?