People, Environment

Measures in Place to Control Locust Invasion

Measures in Place to Control Locust InvasionMeasures in Place to Control Locust Invasion

Countermeasures against the swarm of locusts that have overrun Hamoun County in Sistan-Baluchestan Province have started on Monday, said a senior official at the provincial office of Agriculture Ministry.

The plan was originally slated to go into effect on Saturday, but strong winds made its implementation difficult, according to Reza Najafi, head of the office.

“Our teams couldn’t spray pesticides because of the winds, so we had to wait,” he told ISNA.

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.

Reportedly, the 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.

Experts first estimated the locusts covered about 800 to 1,000 hectares, but revised their initial estimate to 5,000 hectares after field surveys.

Najafi said provincial authorities had initially dispatched two teams to carry out the countermeasures, but due to the severity of the problem they have requested three more teams to be sent from Tehran.

“The plan will cover 13,000 hectares of land to guarantee that the area is cleared of the insects,” he added.

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.