Post-Pesach Locust Plague Could Strike Israel

A cloud of locusts seen over the Ramat Negev. (Flash90)

Pesach is past, but one of its “plagues” has remained in the region – and is likely on its way to Israel. A swarm of locusts that has been attacking crops in Jordan and Saudi Arabia is starting to move westwards, and on Monday morning several of the insects were already seen in the Arava region. The Agriculture Ministry is preparing for a massive spraying effort, using what it termed “eco-friendly pesticides” to deal with the invasion.

The locusts are the latest manifestation of the renewed vigor of insects in Israel and neighboring countries where this past winter’s rainfall was significantly greater than the annual average. Last week many communities reported large numbers of beetles, whose numbers were apparently greatly increased by the rain. The rain left behind water in many streams and mini-lakes, and the recent warmer weather has led to an explosion in the mosquito population.

The locust in question is of the desert variety, a pest that will eat almost any growing thing. Israel experiences these invasions once every few years – the most recent was in 2013 – depending on rainfall amounts, how hot or cold it has been during the winter months, and where the locusts were hibernating during the winter months. According to the ministry, Israeli farmers may not necessarily face a full-on invasion – if the winds cooperate, remaining westerly – but if the bugs do try to cross the border, the ministry is ready to counter-attack, it said.

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