Locusts infest Cairo

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A giant swarm of locusts has hit Cairo, the capital city of Egpyt.

Estimates at this stage put the number of insects at 30 million.

The locusts are threatening farmers livelihoods in the Middle East by eating their crops.

People living there are trying to get rid of them by spraying pesticides but some have developed quite a taste for them.

The pests are such a pain, farmers are trying everything to get rid of them, including eating them!

But the locusts won’t be going anywhere until a change of wind takes them to their next home.

What are desert locusts?

Related to the common grasshopper, desert locusts (Schistocerca gregaria) are normally shy creatures.

When local conditions, such as a scarcity of food, force them to crowd together, however, the ten-centimeter-long insects undergo transformations in appearance and behavior.

Juveniles suddenly become more aggressive, seeking out other desert locusts. Instead of trying to keep a low profile, they get ready to swarm.

This normally happens after a rainy spell.

Why do they swarm?

For self-defense, as it turns out. As a team of researchers from Australia, England, and the U.S. discovered a few years ago, locusts in their aggressive phase develop a keen appetite for other locusts. In effect, they become cannibals.

So whenever a desert locust feels another locust bump into its legs, it surges forward to escape from being eaten. This forward motion, repeated by many individuals in a group, becomes a major impetus for the swarm to surge ahead.

How much damage can they cause?

An adult desert locust, it has been estimated, can consume its weight in vegetation daily. A typical swarm can eat as much as 2,500 people can in a single day. And a large swarm—one that stretches for tens of miles and includes millions (or even billions) of hungry locusts—can strip a farmer’s field in minutes and leave entire villages with nothing to eat.

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