Southern farmers fear new swarm of locusts

Shifting winds may blow millions more of the flying pests across the border; volunteers asked to look to the skies

Southerly winds may blow a new swarm of locusts into the country over the weekend, farmers in Israel’s Negev feared Thursday.

The Agriculture Ministry placed residents of Israel’s south on high alert ahead of the possible influx of a huge swarm numbering millions of individual locusts, and asked for volunteers to patrol the region to look out for the incoming pests.

“If the winds bring the massive swarms from Egypt to here, we are going to be in big trouble,” said Yankale Moskovich, a farmer from Ramat Negev. “The best-case scenario is that all it brings us will be dust storms.”

Israel’s spraying of agricultural fields in the south of the country Wednesday morning succeeded in grounding most of the locusts that had already made it into the country.

Two planes, assisted by ground crews and trucks, sprayed with pesticides the migrating insects that had settled in the area the day before. The teams showered a swath of 1,850 acres, beginning the procedure at 6 a.m and continuing into the early afternoon.

A crop-dusting plane sprays a field in Israel's Negev Desert, Wednesday (photo credit: Dror Garti/Flash90)
A crop-dusting plane sprays a field in Israel’s Negev Desert, Wednesday (photo credit: Dror Garti/Flash90)

Local residents were instructed to stay indoors and close their windows and blinds.

The locusts also caused damages to fields cultivated by Palestinian farmers in the Gaza Strip, and the Hamas government instructed residents on Wednesday to close their windows.

Aaron Kalman contributed to this report.

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