Bloomberg News

Egypt and Saudi Arabia Join African Nations Facing Locust Threat

November 22, 2012

Egypt and Saudi Arabia joined countries in northern Africa that face a threat from locusts after swarms of the pest insects formed in Niger, Mali and Chad, the United Nations said.

Infestations were reported in Libya, Morocco, Egypt and Saudi Arabia in the past week, the UN’s Rome-based Food & Agriculture Organization wrote on its Locust Watch website today. Activity increased in Niger, Mauritania and Sudan, the agency said.

Egypt is forecast to be Africa’s biggest wheat producer in 2012-13, followed by Algeria and Morocco, according to the International Grains Council. An adult desert locust can eat its own weight in food daily, according to the FAO.

“All efforts should continue to maintain and expand survey and control operations in the affected countries in order to reduce the scale of further migration and eventual breeding,” the FAO wrote.

Ground-control operations took place in Niger and Mauritania and to a lesser extent in Chad, the agency said. Small groups of adult locusts moved into southern Algeria and parts of Libya during periods of warm southerly winds, and control operations were carried out, the FAO said.

In Sudan, ground- and aerial-control operations continue against small swarms that formed in summer breeding areas in the country’s interior and are now moving northeast.

Increasing locust numbers were reported in Western Sahara and along the southern side of Morocco’s Atlas Mountains, according to the report. A small swarm was seen in southeastern Egypt, and a limited number of adult insects may have crossed the Red Sea to Saudi Arabia, the FAO said.

Swarms containing tens of millions of locusts can fly as much as 150 kilometers (93 miles) a day, and a female locust can lay 300 eggs in her lifetime, according to the agency.

To contact the reporter on this story: Rudy Ruitenberg in Paris at rruitenberg@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Claudia Carpenter at ccarpenter2@bloomberg.net


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