Desert Locust situation update 13 February 2014

The Desert Locust situation continues to be serious along both sides of the Red Sea where outbreaks are in progress in Eritrea, Yemen and Saudi Arabia. Control operations are underway to reduce swarm formation and eventual migration to spring breeding areas in the Nile Valley and interior of Saudi Arabia. An outbreak has also developed in northwest Somalia.

The situation is most critical in Eritrea and Yemen as a result of favourable ecological conditions that have allowed several generations of breeding since last autumn. In Eritrea, hopper bands are present on the coast to the south and north of Massawa. Adult groups are laying eggs that started to hatch recently, and more hopper bands are likely to form that could lead to swarms. Despite ongoing aerial and ground control operations, seasonal crops are still threatened.

In Yemen, locust infestations are mainly concentrated on the northern coastal plains of the Red Sea between Al Zuhrah and Suq Abs where numerous small to medium-sized hopper bands and adult groups continue to form. Ground control operations are underway but are hampered due to beekeeping in the same area. Good rains fell recently that should allow ecological conditions to remain favourable. Infestations have also been reported on the southern coast near Aden where field operations are limited due to insecurity.

In Saudi Arabia, aerial and ground control operations continue in breeding areas along the central and southern Red Sea coast between Lith and Jizan where hoppers bands and mature adult groups are present. Locusts continue to spread to the northern coast, nearly reaching Al Wajh. There have been new reports of mature swarms near Taif, Mecca and north of Umm Lajj while adult groups are laying eggs near Yenbo.

In Sudan, ground and aerial control operations continue against hopper bands on the southern and central coast, and in the northeast near Tomala. Similar operations were also carried out against dense gregarious adult groups, some of which were laying eggs, in two irrigated wheat schemes in the Nile Valley near Abu Hamed.

In the Horn of Africa, late instar hopper bands as well as new hatching are reported on the northwest coastal plains in northern Somalia between Lughaye and Silil. Control operations are expected to commence shortly to reduce potential swarm formation and migration to the central plateau, eastern Ethiopia and Djibouti. So far, small mature groups and swarmlets have appeared in parts of Djibouti where they dispersed. Mature adults have been reported in adjacent areas of eastern Ethiopia.

All efforts are required to monitor the situation closely and undertake the necessary control operations.