SA sees biggest locust infestation in decades

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“Due to the amount of rainfall received, the outbreak tends to escalate”

SOUTH Africa is experiencing its biggest infestation of brown locusts in decades with heavy rains allowing the crop-eating insects to multiply rapidly.

The infestation, which started in September, has spread to three provinces – the Eastern Cape, Northern Cape and Western Cape – and 80 million rand ($5.4 million) has already been spent combating it with insecticide, the agriculture department said in a statement on Thursday.

“Due to the amount of rainfall received, the outbreak tends to escalate” allowing the locusts to quickly breed, the department said. “The wind is also playing a role in migrating the swarms to the areas where” the locusts haven’t been seen before, including citrus farms in the Eastern Cape, it said.

South Africa has had an exceptionally wet rainy season driven by the La Nina weather phenomenon, which usually results in above normal rainfall in Southern Africa. In December many districts in the country had their heaviest rain since records began in 1921. Much of South Africa experiences a summer rainy season with rains falling from about November through to April. – Bloomberg

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