As the locust attack is expected to hit food production in India, the government has chose to use drones to combat the rapacious grasshoppers. State agencies, farmers and central teams have been spraying Malathion-96 organophosphate insecticide on the swarms at night during control operations. It expressed the possibility of two to two and a half times bigger attacks of locusts than last time and this situation is also visible. One reason for this was the uncontrolled swarms of the previous season in Pakistan that breed continuously.
The Locust Warning Organization (LWO) of the Union ministry of agriculture and farmer welfare has warned of another attack in May-June this year. Locusts have changed their nature and they are flying on heights more than they used to fly.
Heavy rains and cyclones enabled unprecedented breeding and the rapid growth of locust populations on the Arabian peninsula early past year, according to the United Nations. Swarms of pink immature adults fly high and travel long distances with strong winds coming from Pakistan.
Meanwhile, in Mathura, the city administration formed a task force to keep a strict vigil on any movement of locusts and prevent a potential pest attack by the grasshopper family.
Several waves of locust attacks are expected from now until early July, due to spring breeding in southern, Iran and southwest Pakistan, according to experts.
"The government should immediately arrange for aerial sprays of pesticides to control the rapidly escalating situation".
"Depending on this year's monsoon and the success of control operations, new swarms could form at the time of harvest", Mr Cressman added. With their population becoming denser, these swarms attack crops, thereby devastating the entire agricultural economy in what is commonly referred to as locust plague.
More than 20 million people are already facing severe acute food insecurity in Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Yemen, South Sudan, Uganda, Sudan, and Tanzania.
Considered the most destructive migratory pest in the world, a swarm of desert locust containing around 40 million locusts can consume (or destroy) food that would suffice the hunger need of 35,000 people, assuming that one person consumes around 2.3 kg of food every day.
The Covid-19 pandemic is posing fresh challenges for some 100 odd workers who are battling the insects, using vehicle-mounted sprayers, pesticides and drones in the searing desert heat.
Reports have suggested that global warming can increase the chances of locust attacks significantly.
Also, the Rajasthan government is considering tenders so that drones can be used in countering the locust menace, he said.