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Locust outbreak a potential threat

 

 

Photo credit: FAO

Juvenile desert locust hoppers.


Desert Locust outbreak in Yemen leaves surrounding countries potentially at risk

Strict vigilance is also required in northwest Africa

The presence of recently discovered Desert Locust infestations in Yemen, where conflict is severely hampering control operations, poses a potential threat to crops in the region, FAO warned today. FAO urged neighbouring countries, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Iran, to mobilize survey and control teams and to take all necessary measures to prevent the destructive insects from reaching breeding areas situated in their respective territories.

Strict vigilance is also required in Morocco and Algeria, especially in areas south of the Atlas Mountains, which could become possible breeding grounds for Desert Locust that have gathered in parts of the Western Sahara, Morocco and Mauritania, FAO added.

Cyclones help trigger locust presence

Groups of juvenile wingless hoppers and adults as well as hopper bands and at least one swarm formed on the southern coast of Yemen in March where heavy rains associated with tropical cyclones Chapala and Megh fell in November 2015.

“The extent of current Desert Locust breeding in Yemen is not well known  since survey teams are unable to access most areas. However, as vegetation dries out along the coast more groups, bands and small swarms are likely to form,” said Keith Cressman, FAO Senior Locust Forecasting Officer.

He noted that a moderate risk exists that Desert Locusts will move into the interior of southern Yemen, perhaps reaching spring breeding areas in the interior of central Saudi Arabia and northern Oman.

There is a possibility that this movement could continue to the United Arab Emirates where a few small swarms may appear and transit through the country before arriving in areas of recent rainfall in southeast Iran.

Read the full story: FAO

Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.