Locust Infestation In Madagascar Has Experts Fearing Crop Wipeout

Geo Beats
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Residents in Madagascar’s capital city know how horrible locusts can be, as the area is infested with them. On Thursday, billions of locusts swarmed the city and now experts are worried about the food supply.

Locusts bear a close resemblance to grasshoppers but make no mistake about it, a plague of locusts is dangerous, being the equivalent of a natural disaster.

Residents in Madagascar’s capital city know how horrible locusts can be, as the area is infested with them. On Thursday, billions of locusts swarmed the city and now experts are worried about the food supply.

The locusts have actually been a particularly bad problem in Madagascar for the past five years, but plagues on the island stretch back decades with the last one in the 1950’s that lasted for 17 years. Each infestation has led to the destruction of food crops in only a matter of hours.

Now, the economic futures of the 13 or so million people that call Madagascar home could be threatened if the problem continues. It’s estimated that 9 million residents earn a living in the agricultural industry.

In addition to the possible devastation, the locusts are a huge nuisance. It doesn’t appear as though the insects are picky about location. The swarms have been seen on busy streets and in residential areas.

In 2013, The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations began a three-year emergency campaign to control the locust infestations, but raising funds for the program has been an issue.

According to National Geographic, somewhere between “40 and 80 million locusts” can be packed “into less than half a square mile”. A swarm could reach up to 460 square miles.

Given that each insect eats the equivalent of its weight in plants daily, over 400 million pounds of plants may be destroyed every day by a swarm of that size.

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