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Locust Alert

Millions of locusts have been causing “considerable damage” to crops and food for livestock, according to a local farmers’ union.

Italy’s farming association Coldiretti says millions of locusts are causing “considerable damage” to parts of the island, which runs a risk of “seriously compromising part of the harvest”.

Leonardo Salis, the president of Coldiretti’s Nuoro chapter, said the locusts were “devouring everything they encounter” and in some cases “leaving animals without grassland”.

State of emergency declared as Greece battles locust plague on Agios Efstratios Island

Locusts on Agios Efstratios (pic courtesy of Stella Spanou)
Locusts swarming across the land on Agios Efstratios
Villagers on a tiny Greek Aegean island, Agios Efstratios, are battling a plague of locusts and a state of emergency has been declared there.
The island has about 200 residents who rely on agriculture and fishing. Locust infestation is a recurring problem.
A member of the local administration, Stella Spanou, told the BBC that sheep were starving as so much vegetation was being devoured by the locust swarms.
Students from Athens have sprayed the pesticides diflubenzuron and spinosad.
“It’s difficult because of the landscape – they have to go on foot. The eco-friendly chemicals are working, they got good results,” Ms Spanou said.
“But there are still many locusts because they couldn’t spray everywhere.”
The students, from the Agricultural University of Athens, sprayed under the expert supervision of scientists.
They got a special government permit for the pesticides because those chemicals were not registered for use against locusts, team leader Antonios Tsagkarakis told the BBC.
The island, 30km (19 miles) south of Limnos, has one village, where vegetable gardens are being destroyed by the locusts. “The chemicals cannot be used in the village,” Ms Spanou said.
Agios Efstratios is part of the EU’s Natura 2000 conservation network – it has a special status because of its rare flora and fauna.
The island is not a big tourist destination. By July-August most of the locusts will have disappeared, Ms Spanou said, but the problem is that they keep coming back. The swarms are not thought to be migratory.
Next year, Mr Tsagkarakis said, the Athens students will use a geographic information system (GIS) and drones to help fight the locusts.
The Greek island’s caves, cliffs and pools provide habitats for monk seals, falcons, seabirds and migratory birds.
The island’s important vegetation includes rare Valonia oak (Quercus macrolepis), sea daffodils (Pancratium maritimum) and extensive seagrass beds (Posidonia oceanica).
“Many times we asked the government to declare an emergency, but it is expensive to do so. They acted this time because the problem is really big. It means we can overcome bureaucratic problems and do things much quicker,” Ms Spanou said.
Compensation for the islanders – perhaps in the form of a tax deduction – is under discussion.
Courtesy of BBC News

Apocalyptic Locust Plague Swamps Argentina

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It’s the worst in 60 years
A plague of locusts greater than any Argentina has seen in 60 years is threatening to destroy that nation’s farms. The insatiable insects now cover a territory the size of Delaware, and authorities are warning that exterminating the brood is no longer possible.
“It’s impossible to eradicate; the plague has already established itself,” Diego Quiroga, chief of vegetative protection for Senasa, Argentina’s agricultural agency, told the New York Times. “We’re just acting to make sure it’s the smallest it can be and does the least damage possible.”
Argentina, like much of the world, has been experiencing warmer and wetter summers due in part to climate change. These conditions provide ideal breeding grounds for locusts. The swarms in Argentina mirror a worldwide trend of increased challenges from agricultural pests that benefit from the climate upheaval. Locusts stripped Madagascar bare in 2013, for instance.
The past few seasons have seen increases in destructive insects. Last year, before the plague became as severe as it is now, locusts would appear in clouds 4 miles long and 2 miles high, descending on cropland for massive feeding frenzies. These previous encounters suggest to some farmers that the national government should have known the plague was coming and could have taken greater steps to confront the mounting threat.
A single square mile of a locust swarm would contain 40 to 80 million locusts, each of which might eat up to its body weight in food every day.
The main agricultural agency Senasa has sent fumigators into the dense forests that offer comfortable breeding grounds for the locust, and officials report eradicating 66 pockets of young locusts before they gained the ability to fly. Despite the productive measures, the forests are largely impassable, and many new swarms are presumably taking flight every day, adding new numbers to an almost incalculable challenge.
Senasa has set up a hotline for farmers to report locust swarms, and lawmakers in Buenos Aires are outdoing themselves describing the potential damage a mass plague could reap on the agricultural industry in the north. Meanwhile, it takes 10 days for a locust larvae to reach adulthood and take flight. Tick, tock.
Courtesy of