Brown locust infestation

Photo: FAO Emergency / Flickr

Parts of SA may soon be INFESTED by ‘a record number’ of brown locusts

A grim warning has been sounded by agricultural community, as ‘one of the worst brown locust infestations on record’ is now heading for South Africa.

Brown locust infestation

Photo: FAO Emergency / Flickr

Erm, no thanks. Farming experts have warned of an incoming ‘infestation’ for certain regions of South Africa, as a number of unfavourable factors could bring misery to landowners and rural businesses over the next few weeks. The expected swarm of BROWN LOCUSTS could see the bugs come out in record numbers this year, too.

Outbreak feared: Brown locusts set to plague these regions

Already in September, small outbreaks have been reported in the Concordia and Springbok areas of the Northern Cape, as well as the Graaff-Reinet, Cradock and Aberdeen districts in the Eastern Cape. It’s now suggested that the Karoo region in the west of South Africa could experience the worst of these swarms.

Speaking to Farmer’s Weekly just a few days ago, Dr. Gerhard Verdoorn – who serves as the operations and stewardship manager at CropLife South Africa – explained what conditions are likely to facilitate a significant infestation:

“There is enough soil moisture in some parts of the Karoo to catalyse the hatching of brown locust eggs, if the temperature rises to above 16˚C in the soil and 30˚C in the atmosphere.”

What is likely to cause this ‘record’ infestation?

Other factors have also been listed by farming experts, with the Eastern Cape once again looking vulnerable to another plague of brown locusts across the province’s ‘agriculturally important’ locations:

  • The good rainfall forecast for the upcoming season doesn’t bode well for South Africa…
  • Brown locusts had laid their eggs near irrigation areas in the Eastern Cape earlier this year.
  • Substantial downpours could therefore result in large-scale infestations.
  • Farmers have been told to be vigilant, and regularly scout their velds where locusts were present last year.
  • According to Agri SA, stationary swarms of 2km x 1km in diameter had been reported during the previous rainy season.
  • The nightmare could become a reality by the end of October, with ‘large-scale infestations’ now feared.