Apocalyptic locust swarms continue to plague regions already battered in 2020. In the Horn of Africa, aerial and ground control operations continue against highly mobile swarms in Ethiopia and Kenya, and hopper bands and mature swarms in northern Somalia. Meanwhile, first swarms are invading Saudi Arabia.
Locust plague Kenya – January 2021
In Kenya, several immature swarms are arriving every day and spreading west throughout northern and central areas. Swarms have now been seen in seven counties (Wajir, Garissa, Marsabit, Samburu, Laikipia, Isiolo, Meru North) compared to four last week. A few swarms are starting to mature. In the southeast, hopper bands are present near Taita Taveta and on the coast that could form swarms shortly.
As conditions remain dry in some areas, the swarms are expected to disperse throughout southern Ethiopia and north-central Kenya. Any rainfall that occurs in the coming weeks while cause swarms to mature and lay eggs that will hatch and give rise to hopper bands during February and March.
Locust plague Ethiopia – January 2021
In Ethiopia, immature swarms that were previously concentrated along the eastern side of the Harar Highlands in Oromia region have now spread throughout the region to the east of the Rift Valley.
Immature swarms are also moving northwards along the Rift Valley in SNNP region. Other swarms remain concentrated between Harar, Jijiga, and Dire Dawa where at least one swarm was reported copulating. Additional swarms are likely to appear in the Rift Valley south of Adama. The swarms will mature and lay eggs once rains fall.
Locust plague Somalia – January 2021
In Somalia, breeding continues in the northwest and northeast where mature swarms and hopper bands are present in areas that received good rains from cyclone Gati in late November.
Immature swarms continue to move south of the Shebelle River towards Kenya.
Locust plague in Saudi Arabia – January 2021
In Saudi Arabia, control operations are in progress against mainly second instar hopper groups and a few bands along the coast from Jizan to Lith, extending nearly to Duba on the north coast.
All countries should maintain maximum efforts in conducting the necessary survey and control operations to reduce further migration and breeding.