Desert locust swarms continue to threaten harvests

New swarms of desert locusts and persisting infestations continue to pose a threat to local subsistence crops of sorghum and millet ready for harvest in parts of West Africa and Yemen, warns FAO.

In West Africa, new swarms that began forming in southwestern Mauritania the end of September -- despite stepped-up ground control operations -- are now moving north into western Mauritania towards southern Morocco, according to the latest Desert Locust Update. Some of these have laid eggs near Nouakchott.

Some of the young swarms could also move south to Senegal, where they will mature and could lay by mid-November if rains occur. Breeding has also occurred in central Mali, where hopper bands were reported and control operations were in progress.

Despite extensive control operations carried out in Yemen during September, significant breeding was evident in a large area of the interior. Those adults escaping detection and control are expected to form small swarms that are likely to move as the area becomes drier towards the Red Sea coastal plains of Yemen and Saudi Arabia or perhaps continue across the Red Sea towards the coasts of Eritrea and the Sudan. If rain falls on these coastal areas, laying could occur.

Elsewhere, lower numbers of locusts were reported in the summer breeding areas along the Indo-Pakistan border and limited control operations were in progress in Rajasthan, India.

22 October 1996

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