Locust swarms spotted in southern Nepal

Kathmandu, June 27 (efe-epa).- Nepalese officials confirmed on Saturday that swarms of desert locusts, which ravage crops and jeopardize food security, have entered the country.

After an absence of more than two decades, locusts (short-horned grasshoppers) have been spotted in Nepal’s southern plains of Bara, Sarlahi, Parsa and Rupandehi districts on Saturday morning, Hari Bahadur KC, spokesperson of the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development, told Efe.

The government officials, however, have not ascertained the scope of the swarms that have wreaked havoc in 60 countries.

The movement of the migratory bugs depends on the winds, and in Nepal it was blowing west to north for two consecutive days, said KC.

“That was the key factor to bring the migratory bugs to Nepal.”

According to the spokesperson, locusts were seen in Gorakhpur, India three days ago and they could have migrated to Nepal via Banaras in India.

According to the ministry, Nepal experienced its first locusts attack in 1962.

However, the worst locust invasion was observed in 1996 when the swarms destroyed 80 percent of crops in Chitwan and partially damaged crops in the Makwanpur, Mahottari and Bara districts.

The arrival of the insects could deal a double blow to Nepal as it comes amid the spread of the coronavirus. Confirmed cases as of Saturday climbed to 12,309 with 28 deaths.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the desert locust (Schistocerca gregaria) is considered the most dangerous of all migratory pest species in the world.

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