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Southern Russia under locust attack

In what has been described as a near-biblical scene, a horrifying swarm of millions of locusts invaded farmlands in southern Russia, devastating whole field of crops and inflicting severe damage to the farmers. The wrath of the giant swarm of locusts, each measuring about 8 centimeters long, forced the authorities to declare a state of emergency in the region. The attack – the worst invasion in years, has already feasted huge swathes of corn fields in the Stavropol region and continues to wreak havoc in other regions falling for other sources of food. Report suggests the damage of the locust infestation have already reached 10 percent of the total crops leaving farmers helpless. The officials said this scale of devastation by insects in this part of southern Russia has not been witnessed in more than 30 years.

Local authorities have reportedly scrambled vehicles and aircraft to combat the infestation by spraying pesticides over affected areas, some 800,000 hectares of farmland, but their efforts were thwarted by high summer temperatures, decreasing the effectiveness of the pesticides. Also, officials said the locust swarms are moving fast across the southern Russia’s other regions looking for other sources of food. Farmers look distraught walking through what remains of the crop fields. For many village-dwellers, agriculture is the main source of livelihood, and failed efforts of the government have left them with no choice but to mourn for the losses. Some frustrated locals have also posted video of themselves trying to hold back the tide.

Authorities fear that the scale of the plague has been triggered by a recent heatwave, which sent temperatures soaring to nearly 40 degrees. The country’s local media has linked the locust plague to climate change, which has caused recent flooding amid higher than average temperatures. Locust swarms appear in the area almost every year, looking for fertile breeding grounds or abandoned farmlands. However, the dry weather this year has disrupted the ecological process, eventually resulting in the rapid multiplication of the creatures. Russian authorities are concerned that some areas have nothing left to destroy that could prompt the locus swarm to flock to other areas. No wonder if the infestation continues there will be no left crop fields to harvest that would create havoc in the farmers.

Tatiana Drishcheva of the Russia Agriculture Center, said in an interview, “In Kalmikya, Astrakhan, Volgagrad, and Dagestan, there is already no food left for the locusts, so they have moved on to other sources of food. They have wingspans of nearly 12 centimeters, like small sparrows.”

Locusts have long been a problem in Central Asia, Russia and the Caucasus. Locusts have infested more than 70,000 hectares of farmland in western Tajikistan, with the country’s western provinces among the most affected. In 1996, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) set up an Emergency Coordination Unit (ECU) in the Central Asian nation to work on emergency locust control projects. But, Tajikistan is not alone in this problem, which can be very much evident following the horrific pandemic scene in the southern Russia which has left with nothing but a devastated landscape.

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