Israel fights off locust scourge on Passover eve

Israel fights off locust scourge on Passover eve

Crop dusters bombard latest swarm of grasshoppers with pesticide in an effort to save south’s crops

Aircrafts spraying pesticides over agricultural fields in Ramat Negev, March 11, 2013. (photo credit: Flash90)
Aircrafts spraying pesticides over agricultural fields in Ramat Negev, March 11, 2013. (photo credit: Flash90)

Crop-dusting planes on Monday bombarded a scourge of locusts with pesticides in an effort to cull the biblically timed plague that threatened to annihilate crops in southern Israel.

Israel has battled swarm after swarm of the voracious insects for the past three weeks, with ever-larger plagues of the destructive insects arriving daily from neighboring Egypt. At the start of the month, the Agriculture Ministry launched a major crop-dusting campaign to kill the aerial invaders.

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, which will eat anything green in their path.

“The planes spray the swarms and stop them from going further into the country,” a Ramat Negev Regional Council official said.

“You spray them early in the morning to stop them from arriving at moister areas, where they would lay eggs and the larvae would eat everything in sight.”

The latest swarm to hit Israel on Passover eve carries biblical significance: Of the 10 plagues which, according to the Bible, smote Pharaoh to ensure the release of the Israelites from bondage in Egypt, the eighth was locusts.

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