ROME, 13 January 2021 – Another swarm of desert locusts is headed in the direction of Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Tanzania, the Food and Agriculture Orgaization (FAO) warned Wednesday.

The FAO urged governments in the sub-region to do more to control and prevent a further upsurge of desert locusts in Eastern Africa, particularly the Horn of Africa.

Locating Desert Locusts in the Horn of Africa

Locating Desert Locusts in the Horn of Africa – Source Inter Press Service

Desert Locust Situation Update released Monday by the FAO warns that immature swarms are migrating over the entire Horn of Africa sub-region.

Immature swarms will mature, if they are not controlled.

They will then lay eggs that will hatch and cause hopper bands to form during the months of February and March 2021, the FAO Update warned.

The explained that some of the immature swarms have already been spotted in Mwanga district in northeastern Tanzania over the weekend.

“All countries should maintain maximum efforts in conducting the necessary survey and control operations to reduce migration and breeding,” the FAO Update read in part.

Boy in a cloud of desert locusts

Boy in a cloud of desert locusts – Source

Desert locusts, once mature, would devor crops and farmlands across the sub-region, potentially reaching as far as eastern Uganda and southeastern South Sudan.

“There are also cross-border movements near Jijiga and northwest Somalia and along the southern border with Kenya,” the FAO Update read in part.

In Kenya, immature swarms had reached four of the country’s 47 counties.

The FAO describes desert locusts as one of about a dozen species of short-horned grasshoppers (Acridoidea) that are known to change behavior and to form swarms of aults or bands of hoppers (wingless nymphs).

The swarms that form can be dense and highly mobile.

One of the worst attacks on farmlands by desert locusts hit West Africa in 2003-2005.

Countries and development partners had to invest $450 million to control, prevent and, finally, stamp out those swarms, but not before the plague had wreaked famine and caused damage to crops estimated at $2.5 billion..

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