A potentially dangerous outbreak develops in Yemen
Unusually heavy rains fell for three days in March and again in May in the interior of Yemen between Al Abr, Thamud and the Oman border, reaching the edge of the Empty Quarter and causing severe flooding in the normally arid desert. Traditionally, this area was thought to be more of a transit zone for Desert Locust rather than important breeding grounds. However, this is not true on the rare occasions when good rains fall over the area.
Several swarms arrived in early April near Thamud from Saudi Arabia and laid eggs that hatched a few weeks later and hopper bands formed in May. The wingless hoppers are expected to fledge, become adults and form swarms during June. These swarms will stay in the remote areas on the southern edge of the Empty Quarter in the many wadis that bissect the plateau where green vegetation has developed from the rains, an area of about 300 km by 100 km with no villages or roads. The locusts will mature and probably lay eggs by the end of June that will hatch in early July.
Numerous bands are expected to form in July that, if not controlled, could lead to sizable swarms that would threaten the entire region.
Smaller infestations are present in other places in the interior between Marib and Ataq. Here, locust numbers will increase and hopper bands and swarms may form during the summer.
Aerial survey and control operations requiring external funding must be mounted in July by the National Locust Centre in Yemen to minimize damage to agriculture and pasture in the interior, in Wadi Hadhramaut and the Sana'a highlands.