For sustainable society


Flying piranhas cause food shortages

In the past few years, a large number of insects have been found around India, the Arabian Peninsula and East Africa. The insect is a locust. Don’t think lightly, “What’s wrong with the locust?”  Because a swarm of locust is creating a food shortage crisis.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, a kind of locust called “desert locust” with a bottomless appetite is causing serious damage to grain. The number of locust swarms can reach 70 billion. That’s a ridiculous amount that easily fills New York. Moreover, if they are adults, they can eat the same amount of plants as their body weight (about 2-2.5 grams) in one day. For example, in the case of four million locust swarms, they eat an amount of plants equal to the daily food of 35,000 humans in a day. While having a tremendous appetite, desert locust can move as much as 150 kilometers a day. Due to these characteristics, desert locust, also called flying piranhas, are terrifying insects that destroy a wide range of plants within a few days.

This terrifying “desert locust” has caused the worst of 25 years in Ethiopia and Somalia and 70 years in Kenya. However, while the countermeasures have been difficult due to the influence of COVID-19, a herd of desert locust s is growing. The FAO estimates that up to 25 million people will suffer food shortages in 2020 in East Africa.

Why do large numbers of “desert locusts” occur? This is believed to be due to cyclones and heavy rainfall that landed in the Arabian Peninsula from the Indian Ocean between 2018 and 2019. A large amount of water was poured into the desert due to cyclones and heavy rain. On the other hand, desert locusts have the habit of spawning on wet land. As a result, a large number of desert locusts have occurred. It is believed that the cyclone’s landfall was caused by an abnormally high water temperature in the Indian Ocean, and is largely due to global warming. As global warming progresses, the evaporation of seawater becomes more active, and a larger amount of water vapor is stored in the atmosphere. If a tropical cyclone occurs in that state, it tends to develop into a stronger tropical cyclone. Born in the Arabian Peninsula, desert locusts crossed the Red Sea and reached Ethiopia and Somalia. And due to the abnormal heavy rain that continued to fall in East Africa from October to December 2019, the desert locust seems to have expanded to southern Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania. 

Continuing good breeding conditions are expanding the scale of desert locust herds. It may be a good condition for desert locusts, but the loss of human food is a big problem. Although it cannot be concluded that the frequent cyclones are solely due to global warming and climate change, it cannot be denied that there may have been a relationship.


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