What the Locust Plague in Argentina Looks Like

Farmers are fighting back against the biggest influx in 60 years.

|
Jan 26 2016, 4:40pm

Farmers and city officials in Argentina are working to get a handle on giant swarms of locusts that have descended upon the countryside there, in the worst plague in 60 years.

A video filmed in Frías earlier this month (above) shows an explosion of locusts covering the surfaces of trees and houses in the southwestern Argentina city. Fumigators are working to crack down on the locusts while they are young, but in 10 days, they will mature and begin to fly, consuming between 2 and 3 grams of food a day and beginning to reproduce.

Local agricultural group Confederación Rural Argentina said affected areas are in a precarious state and are "on alert" as the government works to get the issue under control. The organization said 700,000 hectares of sunflowers, cotton, and grazing land for cattle farmers are at risk.

"This is national scourge that directly affects crops, grazing fields and natural forests, and it could be much worse if not controlled in the next 20 or 25 days," CRA secretary Juan Pablo Karnatz told La Nación (translated from Spanish) earlier this month.

The rise in locusts comes after several mild winters, coupled with inadequate control efforts from the government, created a perfect breeding ground for the insects. The current plague comes just six months after a similar outbreak in the countryside of Argentina, in which the swarms devoured at least 5.7 square miles of crops. That season, government officials said it measured the cloud of flying locusts to be 5 kilometers wide by 10 kilometers long.

Another video taken last summer in the rural region of Santiago del Estero in northeast Argentina.

This outbreak could be even worse, officials say. A farmer's representative told the New York Times it is unclear how much progress has been made.

"We don't know exactly where we're at," he said. "We may have contained some pockets, but it's not a definitive victory."