Desert Locust Bulletin General situation during December 2018
Forecast until mid-February 2019
General situation during November 2018
Forecast until mid-January 2019
Desert Locust outbreak develops in Sudan and Eritrea
Favourable ecological conditions and extensive breeding caused a Desert Locust outbreak to develop in the winter breeding areas along the Red Sea coast in Sudan and Eritrea during December.
Although breeding commenced in mid-October and continued throughout November, the extent of the breeding was not fully detected until December when widespread hatching occurred, groups of hoppers and adults began forming by mid-month, and adult groups moved back and forth across the Sudan/Eritrea border. By the end of December, a second generation of breeding had started as several mature swarms formed and laid eggs near the border. Ground teams treated 7,235 ha in Eritrea and 1,247 ha in Sudan during December.
During the forecast period, first-generation hoppers and adults will form more groups and a few bands and swarms. This will be supplemented by second-generation hatching in January in both countries that will give rise to additional hopper groups and bands. Immature adult groups and small swarms could start to form by about mid-February. The extent of second-generation breeding will depend on rainfall and ecological conditions.
Elsewhere, small-scale breeding occurred in southeast Egypt, on the Red Sea coast in Saudi Arabia, and in southern Oman. A few small groups or swarms may form in the Empty Quarter near the Yemen/Oman/Saudi Arabia border where good rains fell from Cyclone Luban. So far, at least one small immature swarm has been reported in central Saudi Arabia south of Riyadh near Wadi Dawasir on 6 January 2019. Control operations were immediately undertaken.
The situation remained calm in the other regions and no significant developments are likely.
Saudi Arabia, in particular, the location of Islam’s holiest sites, Mecca, has recently been inundated by swarms of locusts, crickets and cockroaches.
Social media users have posted images and uploaded several videos of swarms of locust infesting the Great Mosque of Mecca, the holiest in all of Islam. It is the focus of the Hajj, the pilgrimage, which draws millions of Muslims a year to Saudi Arabia.
According to a report on Al-Araby, Mecca’s municipal authorities announced earlier in the week that specialized teams of sanitation workers have been tasked to deal with the infestation.
“We have harnessed all efforts available to speed up the eradication of the insects in the interest of the safety and comfort of guests to God’s house,” said the statement.
In a report on reliefweb.int, a Desert Locust Bulletin from December said that “Favorable ecological conditions and extensive breeding caused a Desert Locust outbreak to develop in the winter breeding areas along the Red Sea coast in Sudan and Eritrea during December.”
The report suggested that the breeding in southeast Egypt, on the Red Sea coast in Saudi Arabia and Oman was smaller than that which plagued Sudan and Eritrea. The swarm was helped by good rains following Cyclone Luban, a very severe tropical storm that affected Yemen, Somalia and Oman in particular, in October 2018.
Is it simply irony that in the weekly Torah portion Jews read about the final five plagues – boils, fiery hail, locusts, darkness and death of first-born males – that God sent to afflict Pharaoh and the Egyptians, a swarm of locusts attacks Islam’s holiest mosque?
A locust will eat its weight in food every day and swarms can strip entire regions bare but, for some (like the Russian fishermen), they are considered a mixed blessing. Locusts are, in fact, edible and considered a delicacy in some countries. While the consumption of most insects is forbidden under kosher laws, the Talmud identifies four species of locust that are kosher and permitted to be eaten by Jews. Since the identity of those species is in dispute, most Jews refrain from indulging.