Locust surge may turn into global plague: expert

‘Swarms won’t overrun central India’


The current upsurge in desert locust attacks could turn into a full-fledged global plague by the end of the year if it spreads to West Africa and the insects begin breeding there, says the Food and Agriculture Organisation’s senior locust forecasting officer Keith Cressman.

However, despite the dramatic images of locusts in Jaipur and at the Panna tiger reserve, and the fears of attacks as far as Delhi, Mr. Cressman says the swarms are unlikely to linger in the central Indian States or over large urban centres, and will return to the deserts of Rajasthan with the arrival of monsoon. A changing climate and the recent cyclonic activity have brought the swarms into India earlier than expected and driven them further east than usual, he added.

“Locusts don’t like urban areas, they will simply overfly the urban areas. They will make enough of a bother to scare people, [but] they don’t attack humans, of course. There’s not much to eat in urban areas. They’re not good at eating cement and concrete, they really like to eat the natural vegetation,” he said on Friday, speaking at a webinar organised by the Centre for Science and Environment.