Cyprus suffers rare locust invasion

News and Press Release
Originally published
NICOSIA, Nov 1 (Reuters) - Millions of marauding locusts made a rare show in Cyprus on Monday, alarming farmers who rushed for the pesticides to protect their crops.

Authorities described the locusts as large and pink. They were first detected on the western shores of the island on Sunday and spread inland on Monday.

"There are thousands of them. I've only ever seen such scenes on the television," said Andreas Kazantzis, a senior officer of the Agriculture Ministry in the western region of Paphos.

The locust swarm, a freak of nature to be found in Cyprus, was thought to have spread on winds from North Africa, attracted by unseasonally hot weather and some heavy rain.

Potato crops were reportedly damaged in the Paphos region as were open fields in the southern Limassol district. Authorities were out in force spraying open areas with pesticide and were offering farmers free pesticides to do the same.

Cyprus's more fertile plains in the central and eastern areas appeared unaffected. Authorities appealed to farmers to seal greenhouses.

Timid creatures on their own, locusts can ravage crops in large numbers in a matter of minutes. They are harmless to humans.

"It is pink with clear wings with black dots on it. I have never seen this in Cyprus before," Kazantzis told Reuters, adding he thought the swarm could disperse by Tuesday.

The worst desert infestation of locusts for more than a decade struck West and Central Africa this year.

Reuters - Thomson Reuters Foundation
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