30M Locusts Swarm Egypt

Gov't says it has most of outbreak near Cairo under control

By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 4, 2013 7:37 AM CST | Updated Mar 4, 2013 7:45 AM CST

(Newser) – Cue the locusts: Some 30 million of the insects descended on Egypt over the weekend, in a development that had the country's agricultural ministry scrambling to deploy insecticide-spraying helicopters to contain the outbreak. The main swarm appears to be centered around Giza, near southern Cairo, where Ynet reports that many residents were burning car tires to ward off the pests. Meanwhile, the Times of Israel reports that Egypt's ag minister was pleading with residents to let authorities deal with the infestation: "The armed forces and the Egyptian border units are trying to battle the swarm," he said. "I ask the families living in the area afflicted with the swarm to not light car tires. It doesn't drive the locusts away, it only causes damage."

The locusts have neighboring Israel on alert, notes the AP, adding that its agricultural ministry today set up an emergency hotline and is asking Israelis to use it to report sightings. Today, however, the Egyptian government is claiming that it has eradicated up to 95% of the locusts around Cairo, reports the Egypt Independent, though it acknowledged it's still investigating reports elsewhere. A Cairo professor noted that the UN told the country about the coming swarm in November, but its warnings were brushed off.

This undated photo shows locusts swarming in New South Wales, Australia. Egypt has been inundated with an estimated 30 million of the insects.
This undated photo shows locusts swarming in New South Wales, Australia. Egypt has been inundated with an estimated 30 million of the insects.   (AP Photo/I&I New South Wales)
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