Large swarms of Locust were spotted towards the end of April in Rajasthan and Punjab. Due to favorable wind, the swarms are now reported to be moving towards Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi, and Uttar Pradesh.
In December 2019, locusts had invaded Gujarat and destroyed crops spread over 25,000 hectares of land. So far, 42,000 hectares of pulses, cotton, and vegetable crops have been affected.
What Is A Locust?
Locust is a member of the grasshopper family. A swarm of locusts can cover more than 150 kilometers in a day. While they are harmless for human beings, Locusts consume leaves, fruits, vegetables, and all the crops which are grown for human consumption, destroying them in the process. A small swarm of Locusts can consume food equal to that eaten by 3000+ people.
The type of Locust currently swarming in India is the Desert Locust, which breeds in Pakistan and Iran. It is the most dangerous of all as it consumes food equal to its own weight daily.
Locust attacks are also documented in ancient texts and mythologies. Swarms of Locusts normally migrate to India from June to November owing to the monsoon. What’s different in the current situation is their early invasion and the abnormal size of Swarms.
The swarms’ size makes the current attack the largest in the last 27 years. To put it into perspective, a swarm of the size of Paris would consume food equal to that consumed by half the French population. Consequently, there is a significant possibility of the crops being damaged on a large scale, which would also compound the impact of Coronavirus on the Indian Economy.
India has engaged in discussions with Pakistan and Iran to facilitate co-operated action against the Locusts. India has offered required pesticides to Iran and has requested Pakistan to “rise above its narrow-minded approach” in the co-operation. So far, 700 tractors and 75 fire-engines are engaged in the task of spraying of pesticides to eliminate the Locusts. Nevertheless, India needs to manage the crisis quickly as more than 33% loss of essential crops like wheat, oilseed, etc has been reported in the affected areas since December.
Across The World
In a similar manner, the US witnessed the recent arrival of Murder Hornets, originally named Vespa Mandarina. These 2-inch long hornets kill more than 50 people annually in Asia by their potent stings. However, their major target is Honeybee. A group of Murder Hornets can completely destroy a bee-hive within hours.
As the honeybee industry is an important sector in the US economy, contributing more than $4 billion annually, the US faces a similar threat of having its economy diminished, which is already in stagnation due to Coronavirus lockdown.