Attack of the Locusts

Savannah Miller

While the world is currently suffering from the Coronavirus pandemic, countries in Africa are also combating a plague of locusts, devouring the crops and swarming farms. East Africa has been hit by the worst invasion of desert locusts in 25 years. 

Locusts are a certain species of short-horned grasshoppers, and they normally come in large swarms. The desert locust, the species affecting East Africa, is the most dangerous out of the species. They normally do not attack humans but in swarms, they can kill smaller animals.

Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan, Pakistan, and Uganda have already been affected by these swarms this year. The swarms now in Kenya had been traveling for months from country to country. More countries are going to be affected by this and it could start a food shortage in East Africa.

According to the Los Angeles Times, scientists think that this invasion was caused by an increased number of cyclones in the Indian Ocean. The cyclones dumped unusually large amounts of rain on the locusts’ main breeding ground which led to optimal breeding conditions. 

More than 19 million people in East Africa are already experiencing a high degree of food insecurity because of the locust and the high population of 537.9 million. Millions of dollars have been lost due to the locusts eating the crops they use to provide food. 

If this continues it could ruin harvests in a region with more than 19 million hungry people, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) stated. Kenya has already run out of pesticides and farmers are helplessly watching their crops get devoured. To help solve the problem, Intelligencer, states “from these ideal conditions, the bugs moved south into Yemen (already in a food crisis, Yemenis turned to them as a protein source) and into the Horn of Africa.” “Communities are doing what they can to protect their food source. Many are burying locusts, setting fires, and making noise to scare them off. But these are not sustainable solutions,” states Bussiness Insider

There is not much East Africa can do without the use of pesticides, and their food supply is running low. The lasting impact that these locusts could have on African countries is too early to determine.