Millions and millions of locusts are swarming across Saudi Arabia and Yemen. And with the swarm heading towards east Africa, experts warn it could increase the risk of famine and a full-blown crisis.
“This is an unprecedented situation that we are facing,” said Dominique Burgeon, an emergency services director at the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization.
Residents warned not to eat the locusts
The current locust crisis was triggered by cyclones that struck dry areas of the Arabian Peninsula. That created the ideal situations for locusts to multiply across Saudi Arabia and Yemen. They’re now swarming towards the Horn of Africa thanks to another recent cyclone.
Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Environment has warned residents the swarms could continue for at least two more months. And they’ve told citizens not to eat any of insects as they’ll contain toxic pesticides.
Desert locusts can eat its own weight in food every day. Swarms easily eat and destroy entire fields and form huge clouds large enough to block out the sun. And the swarms can move quickly, covering up to 150 kilometres a day.
“It’s certainly the most dangerous migratory pest in the world, desert locust,” said Keith Cressman, FAO’s senior agriculture officer. “A swarm the size of Rome can eat enough food in one day as everybody in Kenya.”
There is some good news for Dubai residents. The UAE has never been affected by locusts swarms. Phew!
If this story has creeped you out, perhaps this light-hearted video of a locust disrupting a singer’s performance might be more your style!