Desert Locust situation update 14 May 2019

A second generation of spring breeding is underway in Saudi Arabia and Iran

As a result of unusually good ecological conditions, a second generation of breeding is expected to cause a further increase of locusts in the spring breeding areas of Saudi Arabia and Iran.

In Saudi Arabia, spring breeding started earlier than normal this year and is also more distributed throughout the interior: along the eastern side of the Asir Mountains (March–present), in central areas between Riyadh and Hail (February–present), in the northeast between Jubail and Kuwait (March–present), and along the western edge of the Empty Quarter between Wadi Dawasir and Riyadh (April–present). A second generation of breeding is underway in central areas with egg-laying in the last week of April and hatching that may have already started. Ground and aerial teams treated 16,430 ha on 1-10 May.

In Kuwait, late instar hopper groups and bands were seen near Al Wafra and the Saudi Arabia border since the last week of April. Many of these started to fledge about a week ago and are likely to form groups of immature adults and perhaps a small swarm if not controlled. The infestations are likely to have originated from breeding that occurred in March along inaccessible border areas by swarms that moved enroute from Saudi Arabia to the southern coast of Iran. Control operations have treated 50 ha since 28 April. A few swarms may also appear from adjacent areas of Saudi Arabia.

In Jordan, an immature swarm arrived in the south near Al Jafr on 4 May that was controlled the next day. On 5 May, another immature swarm flew over the same area and reached Tafilah (south of Amman) where it was treated by air. In all, control operations treated 460 ha. The swarms are likely to have originated from breeding areas in Saudi Arabia and migrated during a brief period of southerly winds. A few more swarms could appear during periods of southerly winds, and perhaps reach southern areas of Syria or Israel.

In Yemen, locals reported several immature and mature swarms moving in the highlands between Dhamer and north of Sana'a during the past week. These swarms originated from breeding several months ago in the Empty Quarter. A ground survey is underway in the interior between Marib, Ataq and Shabwah where so far scattered adults and a few groups have been seen. Egg-laying is in progress in a few areas, and hatching is likely by the end of May with hopper groups and small bands forming in June.

In Iran, hopper and adult groups and a few hopper bands are present along parts of the coast from west of Bandar Lengeh to the Pakistan border and in the Jaz Murian Basin of the interior. A second generation of spring breeding started in late April with substantial hatching this past week that will cause more hopper groups and bands to form, which could give rise to new adult groups and swarms starting about mid-June if not controlled. Intensive control operations treated more than 18,000 ha so far in May. There is a risk that a few adult groups or small swarms could appear from Arabia at times.

In Pakistan, small-scale breeding continues in coastal areas of Baluchistan where limited control was carried out against a few hopper groups. Hoppers will start to fledge and become immature adults at the end of May and continue to about mid-June. At that time, local infestations could be supplemented by adult groups and small swarms arriving from Iran.

The longer-term outlook suggests that there is a moderate risk of a few swarms migrating after mid-June from the spring breeding areas to the summer breeding areas along both sides of the Indo-Pakistan border and also the interior of Sudan. The scale of the migration depends on the success of current survey and control operations. Therefore, all affected-countries should maintain these operations and report on time. FAO DLIS will continue to monitor the situation closely and keep all countries informed.