As if pandemics, earthquakes, explosions, shoot-outs, a typhoon and a super-cyclone weren’t enough for the world to be grappling with, vast swarms of locusts are now threatening food supplies in the second-most populous country in the world, India.
On Monday, the swarms descended on Jaipur, a city of some three million people, with eyewitness video from the area showing the full horror of the invasion.
“That’s it, 2020 is the last year for humankind…!!!” exclaimed one despairing Twitter user.
“The current locust outbreak is the biggest in 25 years in Ethiopia and Somalia, in 26 years in India, and in 70 years in Kenya,” explained Keith Cressman, senior locust forecasting officer at the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization.
The locusts are capable of reproducing 20-fold in three months, and adult locusts can consume their own body weight in food each day. Some 80 million adults can squeeze into just a single square kilometer and fly up to 150km in one day, consuming around the same amount of food as 35,000 adult humans on a daily basis.
“Summer breeding along both sides of the Indo-Pakistan border was much higher than normal, due to the swarm invasion and the monsoon rains lasting one month longer than normal, allowing up to three generations of breeding,” Cressman added.
Indian authorities are already stretched thin with the coronavirus response and disaster relief efforts in the southeast of the country following super-cyclone Amphan. Drones have been used to track the hordes, and the deployment of specialized fire tenders equipped with pesticide is being considered.