Amidst the panic wreaked by the coronavirus pandemic, the western region of our country is facing large scale invasion from desert locusts. Aggressive swarms of crop-devouring short-horned insects have invaded more than two dozen districts covering almost half a lakh hectares of desert areas in western India. Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Gujarat have become the worst affected states. This attack among other threats could lead to a major food security crisis in the region explained Dr Maya during her introductory talk during the Webinar on locust invasion and its management strategies organised by the Environmental Information System (ENVIS).
Dr B A Daniel, Senior Scientist (Entomology) in Zoo Outreach Organization and the chair of IUCN SSC South Asian Invertebrate Specialist Group was the keynote speaker of the event.
Eighty-nine members including Environmental professionals, researchers and students from Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, and Punjab actively participated and interacted in the webinar.
The keynote speaker discussed in detail about the locust invasion, from the biology of the locust to the current invasion scenario and described how the Corona pandemic adversely affected the management of locust invasion. He also presented the route map of the desert locust infestation between January and July 2020 using maps. Furthermore, he observed that in India, adult groups and swarms were maturing throughout Rajasthan.
He mentioned that so far, a few hopper groups and bands have formed, but substantial hatching is expected in the coming weeks of July and August 2020. There have been no recent reports of further locusts in the northern states as most of the adult groups and swarms have returned to Rajasthan as expected.
Speaker also explained about how solitary locust becomes gregarious and how it affects agrarian ecosystems and food security. Further, he explained about management strategies using organophosphates, early warning and making sounds to drive them away etc
Participants including Dr Maya Mahajan asked several questions and expert speaker revealed many interesting facts about locust invasion. Webinar ended with the votes of thanks from Mr Binish M B, Information officer, Envis Center,