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Already crippled by the COVID-19 pandemic, another outbreak of desert locust hits India, after almost three decades, and might soon reach the capital. By Tanvi Jain

 

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Swarms of locust — tropical grasshoppers with a capability to travel at least 150 kilometres a day at an approximate speed of 15 to 20 kilometres per hour — have caused extensive damage to vegetation in parts of Gujarat, Rajasthan Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, and are now headed towards the national capital. 

These creatures entered Rajasthan from Iran and Pakistan and later engulfed parts of central and western India. And now experts have predicted a severe attack soon on Delhi/NCR, depending upon the wind speed.  

“Swarms of Locusts enter Jhansi, Uttar Pradesh. Environment Ministry yesterday said, Locust Swarm from Pakistan have entered Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh threatening major damage to crops,” All India Radio News earlier tweeted. 

 

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They were also recently spotted attacking the residential and market areas of Jaipur, after a video showing the same went viral on social media. 

The capital has already been put on high alert and constant monitoring is being done by the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) to help the Agriculture Ministry determine the direction of Locusts, and be prepared for the next attack. 

Moreover, the districts of Chhattisgarh bordering Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra have also been put on alert after an attack on Amravati and Mandla areas, respectively. The swarms of locusts have already destroyed orange crop and vegetable plantations in few areas of Maharashtra’s Nagpur and Wardha districts.  

“Climate change is a real threat, day by day we are facing unusual weather conditions, cyclones, and have to face threats like locust storms. First of its kind stuck Panna,” tweeted Panna Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh. 

 

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These desert locusts have so far managed to spread across 50,000 hectares in parts of western and central India. These creatures were reportedly seen attacking parts of East Africa and South Asia earlier around February this year.  

According to the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations, “The Desert Locust is one of about a dozen species of short-horned grasshoppers (Acridoidea) that are known to change their behaviour and form swarms of adults or bands of hoppers (wingless nymphs). The swarms that form can be dense and highly mobile.” 

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