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Red Sea locust infestation may increase dramatically, UN agency reports

Red Sea locust infestation may increase dramatically, UN agency reports

There is a high risk that locust infestations will increase dramatically on both sides of the Red Sea in the coming months as the crop-devouring insects have bred several months earlier than normal this year because of good rainfall since August, the United Nations warned today in its latest update.

In the last few days, young “hopper” locusts formed several small bands on the northern coast of Yemen near Suq Abs. On the central coast, hopper groups were forming south of Hodeidah. Adults continue to lay eggs in many areas but so far no swarms have reached the coast from the interior of Yemen, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said.

Local breeding is also in progress along the coastal plains in Eritrea and Sudan where groups of adults laid eggs last month. Hatching is expected in the coming days in Tokar Delta, Sudan, and in Eritrea near Mehimet in the north and Shieb on the central coast. During October, breeding is expected to extend to other coastal areas in both countries and in southwest Saudi Arabia near Jizan.

Locust infestations continue to decline in outbreak areas in the interior of Yemen as vegetation dries out but a few more swarms could still form from residual populations in October and move into the central highlands and to the southern coast near Aden, with a moderate risk that some could cross the Gulf of Aden to northern Somalia. Recent reports of swarms in northeast Somalia are being verified.

Two months ago FAO termed the infestation in Yemen as “threatening and extremely serious” and in September it warned that it had worsened.