Billions of locust eggs hatch in the Negev
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Billions of locust eggs hatch in the Negev

Negev Regional Council head appeals to the prime minister to save the south

A cloud of locusts in southern Israel in March 2013 (photo credit: Dror Garti/Flash90)
A cloud of locusts in southern Israel in March 2013 (photo credit: Dror Garti/Flash90)

The locust swarms that entered Israel in March and April, although prevented from causing major crop damage by an intensive spraying campaign, still left behind billions of eggs that are now hatching.

The newly hatched locusts could be a real disaster for crops, especially when they gain the ability to fly, Negev Regional Council head Shmuel Rifman warned.

“The Agriculture Ministry has lost control and doesn’t have the appropriate tools to destroy billions of locusts,” he said in a Channel 10 TV interview Monday night, appealing to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to declare a state of emergency in the Negev.

In early April, locusts expert Dr. Yoram Yerushalmi told The Times of Israel that the danger posed to crops by unhatched locust eggs was minimal. He said the swarms that triggered a media craze at the time were “not actually large numbers” — as locust swarms go — and that the offspring of the March swarms “should be under control.”

He explained that it takes approximately two weeks for nymphs to grow big enough to cause damage to crops, and that in the intervening period Israeli authorities should have ample time to prevent them from wreaking havoc. But some reports Tuesday said the spraying had not proved as effective as anticipated.

Ilan Ben Zion contributed to this report.

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