Fertile locusts swarm into Israel on Passover eve
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Fertile locusts swarm into Israel on Passover eve

Arriving with Biblically resonant timing, latest arrivals are ready to reproduce

Aaron Kalman is a former writer and breaking news editor for the Times of Israel

A TV reporter holds up one of the yellow locusts that landed in southern Israel on Sunday (photo credit: image capture from Channel 2)
A TV reporter holds up one of the yellow locusts that landed in southern Israel on Sunday (photo credit: image capture from Channel 2)

A day before Passover, farmers in southern Israel were suffering from another plague of locusts, entering the country from Egypt with biblical timing.

The pests hit fields and greenhouses in the south; the Agriculture Ministry was working to prevent heavy damage to crops in the Negev and stop the insects from penetrating deeper into the country.

Unlike previous swarms that have entered Israel in the past month, the locusts that hit Israel Sunday are yellow and fertile and, in this stage of their metamorphosis, pose less risk to crops because they eat significantly less. Once the insects lay eggs and they hatch, however, Israeli farmers will face the threat of this wave’s insatiable brood, who will eat anything green in their path.

The new swarm hit Israel on the eve of the Passover festival, which marks the Israelites redemption from slavery in ancient Egypt, achieved after Egypt’s Pharaoh was hit by 10 divinely ordered plagues — the eighth of which was locusts.

At the start of the month the ministry launched a major crop-dusting campaign to combat earlier swarms.

The ministry said at the time it feared warm weather would see additional locusts cross the border from the Sinai Peninsula, fears that were realized on Sunday.

In Egypt swarms of locusts, numbering hundreds of millions of insects, have recently been spotted over the Sinai, east of El Arish. Authorities there were facing difficulties eradicating the pests due to a failure in one of the main water pipes to the city.

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