Wildlife & Biodiversity

Locusts invade Delhi-NCR

Insects spotted in Delhi’s Aya Nagar and Vasant Kunj areas in addition to five places in Gurugram; expected to move deeper into Delhi

 
By Ishan Kukreti
Last Updated: Saturday 27 June 2020
Locusts have been spotted in Delhi's Aya Nagar as well as in five locations in Gurugram. Photo: @joybhattacharj / Twitter
Locusts have been spotted in Delhi's Aya Nagar as well as in five locations in Gurugram. Photo: @joybhattacharj / Twitter Locusts have been spotted in Delhi's Aya Nagar as well as in five locations in Gurugram. Photo: @joybhattacharj / Twitter

Moisture due to monsoonal rains and a west-to-east monsoon wind pattern have brought locusts to the national capital for the first time, according to the central Locust Warning Organisation (LWO).

“This swarm was in Haryana’s Mahendragrah district yesterday and has now moved to Delhi via Gurgaon,” CS Ranawat of LWO told Down to Earth

This is the first time that locusts have entered Delhi since the five-year locust plague of 1926-31, according to Govind Gujar, a research scientist with the South Asia Biotechnology Centre (SABC) — a Delhi-based non-profit working on agriculture and science. During the last major locust outbreak in 1993, the pests had come as far as Hisar district in Haryana. 

“Due to the moisture created by rain, the locusts are moving here,” Om Prakash, an LWO official said. 

The swarm, which is three-four square kilometres (sq km) in size, has already been spotted in areas like Vasant Kunj and Aya Nagar, which border Gurugram on the Delhi side. 

“The swarm is still on the move and is likely to travel around 50 kilometres further into Delhi before it settles down in the evening,” Prakash said. 

The swarm had entered India through Bikaner a few days back and had reached Haryana on June 26, 2020 after travelling at around 100 km per hour through Churu, Narnaul and Hanumangarh. The swarm, which was much bigger when it entered India, was sprayed upon in Bikaner and Sikar.  

“Yesterday, the swarm was supposed to turn back from Palwal. But due to the wind pattern, but it hasn’t happened. Instead, it has moved into Delhi,” Ranawat said. 

LWO teams are on their way to Delhi to control the pests. 

With the southwest monsoon setting and leading to more moisture and greenery and the west-to-east wind direction, more swarms can be expected to come to Delhi in the coming days. 

“Usually, when a place gets a swarm, the chances of repeated swarms coming to that area are high. More swarms can come to Delhi,” Prakash said.   

Experts say that the swarms will be a recurring phenomenon. 

“Inundative swarms all through April, with a little respite in March, seems to indicate that a high rate of breeding has taken place in areas of the Indo-Pak border due to congenial climactic conditions. Usually the breeding in these areas does not lead to swarm formation in April, but this time it has happened. And because of this high breeding rate, these swarms will become a recurring phenomenon in the coming months,” Gujar said. 

Till June 19, according to the data of LWO, a total area of 99,916 hectares had been affected by locusts in Rajasthan, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat. 

Faridabad

A huge swarm appeared over the Green Field colony in Faridabad at about 12.50 pm. They were yellow and black in colour, a sign that they were mature adults. They were not flying very high and stayed closer to the ground and appeared to be coming from the east.

Within minutes, they turned almost all the greenery, including keekar plants, into rugged mounds of glistening brown. The neem trees though, were spared.

It took a while for the residents to realise what was going on. Soon, some came out with their utensils and started banging those while the others honked their vehicles. The swarm left the colony by 1.10 pm, and moved towards the west.

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