Crops on nearly 173,000 acres of land have been destroyed in Somalia and parts of eastern Ethiopia in what the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization is deeming the region's worst desert locust invasion in a quarter century. The FAO notes the insect plague is imperiling farmers' livelihoods and the area's food supply, and that just one average-size swarm can take out crops that could feed up to 2,500 people for an entire year, Reuters reports. A video posted by a Voice of America reporter shows a giant swarm of the locusts swooping over the Somalian town of Adado. One Ethiopian farmer laments his harvest has been so affected this year that it's "not even enough to feed my family."
To make matters worse, the FAO says what it can do at this point will have just a "very limited" effect: It's unable to do a mass pesticide blast, since conflict in much of Somalia has knocked out the option of an airplane spraying. The agency says the infestation will probably spread to other nations, including Kenya, Eritrea, Djibouti, Sudan, and South Sudan, and that locust breeding will likely continue through April, per VOA. Heavy rains and flooding that don't usually happen to this extent at this time of year have contributed to the problem, with experts blaming "climate shocks" for an overall change in weather patterns in the region. (Read more locusts stories.)