Video: Hordes of locusts block out the skies in Saudi Arabia
Residents of Saudi Arabia took to social media this week to post the bewildering sight of a swarm of 360 billion (with a B) of locusts.
The massive locus swarm measures roughly the size of New York’s island of Manhattan, and has caused tens of millions worth of damage. It has already devastated parts of East Africa, and the worst is yet to come.
The food and agriculture organization (FAO) of the UN has requested more than US$75 million to tackle the crisis. The insect swarm appears to have been caused by recent cyclones in the area, which make for ideal breeding conditions for the pests.
Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Environment has warned residents not to eat any of the locusts, as they are likely contaminated by toxic pesticides.
The reason why locusts are such pests is that they can consume their own bodyweight in food each day, and can travel up to 150-kilometres.
“A swarm the size of Rome can eat enough food in one day as everybody in Kenya," said Keith Cressman, the FAO’s senior agriculture officer.
An even bigger swarm is expected to land in June, and that would could grow to more than 500 billion.