People, Environment

Locusts Invade Hamouns

Locusts Invade HamounsLocusts Invade Hamouns

A swarm of locusts that has invaded Hamoun County in Sistan-Baluchestan Province and its renowned wetlands since late August has compelled local authorities to step up their game to control and manage the problem.

According to Mohammad Ali Baghestani Meybodi, the head of Iran’s Plant Protection Organization, prolonged drought in the neighboring Afghanistan, which borders Sistan, has for the first time forced these insects across borders to the Hamouns, which provide them a suitable habitat.

A locust is a large and mainly tropical grasshopper with strong powers of flight. It is usually solitary, but from time to time there is a population explosion and they migrate in vast swarms and cause extensive damage to crops.

Experts first estimated the locusts covered about 800 to 1,000 hectares, but revised their initial estimate to 5,000 hectares after field surveys, “meaning that there are 15 to 20 insects per square meter”, IRNA quoted Meybodi as saying.  

Highlighting the necessity of eradicating these pests before they can reach farmlands, he said the required pesticides have been dispatched to the region.

Meybodi also called for inter-sectoral cooperation, specifically naming the province’s governorate and crisis management center, to help tackle the problem before it gets out of hand.

Counter measures started early this week and covered the 5,000 hectares invaded by the insects, but the plan will continue covering wider areas, up to 13,000 hectares to ensure success.

Hamouns are trans-boundary wetlands on the Iran-Afghanistan border and constitute three lakes: Hamoun-e Helmand, which is entirely in Iran; Hamoun-e Sabari on the border; and Hamoun-e Puzak, which is almost entirely inside Afghanistan.

The three lakes are linked and fed by water from Afghanistan’s Helmand River.