What is locust plague? All you need to know swarms of desert locusts which swept Gurugram
Photo Credit: PTI

Multiple locations in Gurugram on Saturday morning saw clouds of locusts swarming in the sky lending a dark eerie atmosphere to the city, which borders the national capital Delhi.

The swarms were witnessed in multiple locations in the Gurugram district today including at Sector-5, Palam Vihar.

Delhi Air Traffic Control (ATC) on Saturday directed pilots of all airlines to take necessary precautions during landing and take-off of aircraft in view of locust swarms seen near the airport in areas along Gurugram-Dwarka Expressway.

A team has been set up to monitor the situation.

"Pilots of all airlines have been warned about the locust has seen near the airport, we have set up a team to monitor in view of the locust," a senior ATC official told ANI.

Present Delhi Airport is operational and all flight movements are as per schedule, an airport official said.

After the resumption of domestic flights operation, Delhi's Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport operates around 500 total aircraft in a day.

India is facing the worst locust attack in recent years. The desert locust is a species of locust, a swarming short-horned grasshopper and poses an unprecedented threat to food supply and livelihoods of millions of people.

Locust swarms from north-west areas bordering Pakistan entered Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh and ravaged standing crops for over a month now.

Rajasthan is the worst affected state by the menace, and the Centre had said it would see effective spraying of insecticides through helicopter drones which will remain located on the border to curb the breeding and the incoming swarms of the pests from the neighbouring country.

What is locust and locust plague?

Locust belongs to the family of grasshoppers. These insects form enormous swarms that spread across regions, devouring crops and leaving serious agricultural damage in their wake. These insects are normally harmless, their numbers are low and do not pose a major economic threat to agriculture. However, under suitable conditions, like rapid vegetation growth, serotonin in their brains triggers a dramatic set of changes: they start to breed abundantly, becoming gregarious. With their population becoming denser, they form swarms and keep moving across areas damaging the crops. These swarms attacking crops and devastating agricultural economy is what is commonly referred to as locust plague.

Why is it happening?

Experts believe the higher frequency of cyclones originating in the Indian Ocean have led to an increase in locust attacks this year. The Food and Agriculture Organization has warned of a large-scale locusts attack in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Sudan, Yemen, Iran, Pakistan and Egypt.

This is the second round of locust attack in India, the first one occurred between December-February.

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