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Delhi Braces for an Invasion: 'Make Noise' and 'Don't Panic'

Locusts are out in huge numbers, earlier than usual
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 29, 2020 9:10 AM CDT

(Newser) – Hungry locusts are causing widespread devastation to crops in India and Pakistan, and they might have their sights set on a more unusual target: the densely packed city of Delhi. A change in the wind might spare the city in the coming days, reports the Guardian, but if not, residents can expect gardens and other green spots there to fall prey, per the Times of India. And to provide a sense of how difficult it is to fight back, here is the advice to city residents from an official with the national Locust Warning Organization: "Make a lot of loud noise so that instead of settling, they keep flying and fly past the city. And don’t panic." The locusts have turned up weeks earlier than usual and have feasted on an estimated 120,000 acres of farmland in India's heartland alone, reports the AP.

The early start to the locust season appears to stem from cyclones in Oman and Yemen—back in 2018—that essentially turned deserts there into lakes, explains the Weather Channel. That provided the perfect breeding ground and has led to massive swarms the likes of which haven't been seen in nearly 30 years. Farmers have been spraying pesticides and honking horns, and local authorities have employed fire engines and police sirens to try to ward off the locusts. In Pakistan, some farmers have resorted to using sticks to fight the bugs, notes the AP. The fear is that unless these current swarms are controlled so they can't breed, the more typical locust season of June to September will be worse than usual all throughout Asia and Africa. If that happens, summer crops across both continents will be endangered. (Read more locusts stories.)

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