Swarms move into northern India
In the past few days, there have been movements of adult groups and swarms in India, Oman, UAE, and Uganda.
Swarms are forming in the spring breeding areas and migrating east to the Indo-Pakistan border ahead of the monsoon rains.
• India. Spring-bred immature adult groups and swarms that arrived in Rajasthan from the west continued to move east in the eastern portion of the state and to the central states of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. As of 26 May, at least one swarm had reached to the northeast of Bhopal. Much of these movements were associated with strong westerly winds from Cyclone Amphan in the Bay of Bengal. Control operations are underway. Several successive waves of invasions can be expected until July in Rajasthan with eastward surges across northern India as far as Bihar and Orissa followed by westward movements and a return to Rajasthan on the changing winds associated with the monsoon. These movements will cease as swarms begin to breed and become less mobile. Swarms are less likely to reach south India, Nepal, and Bangladesh.
• Pakistan. Adults are forming groups and small swarms in spring breeding areas in the southwest (Baluchistan) and the Indus Valley (Punjab). These infestations will move to the summer breeding areas along the Indo-Pakistan from Cholistan to Tharparkar. Control operations are underway in all areas.
• Iran. Adults are forming groups and small swarms in spring breeding areas along the southern coast and parts of Sistan-Baluchistan as vegetation is drying out. These infestations will move east to the Indo-Pakistan summer breeding areas. Control operations are underway.
Important breeding continues in Yemen in the absence of survey and control operations.
• Yemen. Breeding is continuing in areas of recent rains in the interior where hopper bands and mature swarms have formed.
• Oman. Several immature adult groups moved from the northern interior near the UAE border to the north coast where they are expected to move along the coast to Ras Al Hadd before crossing to southeast Pakistan. Other groups moved from the interior breeding areas to Dubai. Control operations are underway.
• Saudi Arabia. Control operations were carried out against immature adult groups in the northern interior near Hail and Gassim, and against mature adult groups further south near Wadi Dawasir and Najran.
The current situation remains extremely alarming in East Africa where Kenya, Ethiopia, and Somalia continue to face an unprecedented threat to food security and livelihoods. New swarms from current breeding will form from mid-June onwards, coinciding with the start of the harvest. Thereafter, there is a risk that swarms will migrate to the summer breeding areas along both sides of the Indo-Pakistan border as well as to Sudan and perhaps West Africa.
• Kenya. Ground and aerial control operations continue against hopper bands in the northwest (Turkana, Marsabit). A few late-maturing swarms were seen south of Lodwar and new infestations were found along the Tana River where hopper bands are present.
• Ethiopia. A few immature and mature swarms remain in the south. Breeding has increased in the Ogaden and hopper bands have present. Breeding continues near Dire Dawa where hopper bands persist, and adults have formed groups and swarms. Breeding also occurred in Afar and on the eastern edge of the highlands, causing hopper bands to form. Ground and aerial control operations continue.
• Somalia. Breeding is underway in central areas (Galkayo and Galmudug) where scattered adults and hopper groups are present. Breeding is also underway in the northwest where hopper bands and groups of immature and mature adults are present on the plateau (east of Burao to the west of Boroma) and the coast near Bulhar. Hopper groups are also present in the northeast near Garowe. Control operations are underway.
• Uganda. On the 26 May, at least one swarm was seen in the northeast district of Kaaborg that was probably moving towards South Sudan.
• Sudan. Scattered gregarious adults are present near the South Sudan border at a few places in Blue Nile, While Nile, and South Kordofan states. A few adults persist in the Nile Valley north of Kordofan.
The situation is currently calm. There is no indication so far of spring-bred swarms forming or leaving Arabia. Swarms will not form in East Africa (Kenya and Ethiopia) until about mid-June. Thereafter, they will move north to Sudan and if they arrive before the summer rains, then they are likely to continue west to eastern Chad and beyond. While the current threat remains low, it can change significantly in the coming weeks based on rainfall, winds, and the locust situation in Arabia and East Africa. Therefore, investments in preparedness and anticipatory actions should be immediately and quickly scaled up to face this potential threat.