MAKKAH: Locusts have invaded every region across the Kingdom. The insects arrived from nearby countries, which have struggled to limit the spread of the vast swarms.
Saudi authorities have doubled the daily aerial sprayings to combat the locusts.
Mohammad Al-Shammrani, director of combating locusts and plagues at the Ministry of Environment, Agriculture and Water, told Arab News that the swarms came from East Africa.
Red locusts can be ferocious and eat crops.
The swarms attacked crops in Jazan, Asir, Al-Baha, Al-Leith, Qunfodah and Makkah and were combated by specialized teams. The environmental conditions in these regions allowed the locusts to mature quickly and lay eggs.
“We’ve combated locusts on a daily basis from the beginning of January to the end. We exterminated the first generation of the swarms, which attacked Jazan all the way to the Makkah region. We targeted two swarms of locusts in Qunfodah and Al-Leith,” he said.
New swarms entered the Kingdom from nearby countries such as Eretria, Ethiopia, Somalia, Yemen, Oman and India. The swarms entered Najran from Yemen and few of them reached the Asir and Riyadh regions, he explained.
The huge number of locusts and the speed of the wind helped the swarms to spread in regions such as Al-Qassim, Hail and the Eastern Province.
Combat teams are working relentlessly to monitor the movement of swarms and carry out aerial sprayings.
The effects of locusts on crops can be detrimental if no swift interventions are made. The swarms can wipe out crops in a few minutes. That is why Al-Shammrani said the sprayings have been intensified in the spring and winter seasons and from the south coast to the west coast as well as the north coast of the Red Sea.
“We use spraying aircraft in rugged areas and terrain. All the insecticides are approved by the Food and Agriculture Organization,” he said.
Locusts tend to multiply during rains and flaky weather, especially in desert and high-humidity areas. There are seven countries that are infamous for having large swarms of locusts: Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan, Yemen, Oman, Saudi Arabia and Somalia.