With Gadhafi Gone, Locusts Plague Libya
Insect swarms threaten crops in neighboring countries too
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 10, 2012 2:38 PM CDT
A locust swarm in Libya.   (FAO)

(Newser) – One little drawback to Gadhafi's downfall: Locust swarms are buzzing around the Libyan desert and putting croplands at risk, Mother Nature Network reports. "The fall of Gadhafi was an enormous factor, to be honest," says the top locust forecasting officer at the Food and Agricultural Organization. "It depleted the Libyans' capacity to monitor and respond as they normally would."

Last month, rainfall in Libya and Algeria expedited the growth of crops that locusts love munching on—and without Gadhafi's regular pest control convoys, the insects went wild. Now neighboring countries are also at risk, especially Mali, where the battle against rebel Islamists could hamper pest control. This outbreak resembles the locust plague of 2003-2005, which afflicted more than 20 (mostly African) countries and cost over $500 million to contain—but Libya's current swarms aren't nearly so bad, reports the Financial Times.