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Jordan Air Force battles locust swarm

May 7, 2019 at 3:07 pm

Image of Jordanian Air Force [wikipedia/Caycee Cook]

The Jordanian Air Force was mobilised yesterday to battle the second swarm of locusts to hit the kingdom in 24 hours, according to the National.

Officials reported that the swarm hit the southern governorate of Talifah, which is known for its fruit and olive orchards.

Talifah is also home to the Dana Biosphere reserve, a tourist attraction and the largest nature conservation area in the country.

The air force began spraying pesticides at 5am yesterday, continuing through the morning, Jordan’s agriculture ministry said.

A locust perched on a branch [Julay Cat/Flickr]

A locust perched on a branch [Julay Cat/Flickr]

“We have eliminated 95 per cent of the locust swarm in southern Jordan, and we hope to have completely eradicated the locusts in the final area by early tomorrow,” Lawrence Majali, a ministry spokesman, told the National.

“No additional locust swarms have entered Jordan and monitoring is ongoing.”

Jordan has been expecting the insects since February when the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) announced an increase in activity due to ideal breeding conditions in Sudan and Eritrea.

“Good rains along the Red Sea coastal plains in Eritrea and Sudan have allowed two generations of breeding since October, leading to a substantial increase in locust populations and the formation of highly mobile swarms,” the FAO said.

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In response, Jordan set up an emergency anti-locust committee, putting the air force on standby to monitor regions and respond to the destructive insects.

Mass swarms have also been reported in neighbouring Saudi Arabia.

The Jordan Meteorological Department forecast shifts in wind direction, slowing down the approach of further swarms from Saudi Arabia.

“A southern wind has been aiding the locusts’ spread, but today after sunset a northern wind will affect the Kingdom and this will help prevent the entry of further locust swarms,” Majali said.

An adult locust can eat its own body weight in food each day and a female can lay up to 300 eggs in her short life. A swarm is capable of travelling up to 150 kilometres and consuming enough food for 35,000 people in 24 hours.

Jordan, which earns four per cent of its GDP from agricultural exports, is treating the infestation as a national emergency.

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