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Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Swarms of locusts spotted in Mérida spark concern

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Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Born in Mérida, Carlos Rosado van der Gracht is a Mexican/Canadian blogger, photographer and adventure expedition leader. He holds degrees in multimedia, philosophy and translation from universities in Mexico, Canada and Norway. Sign up for the Yucatán Roundup, a free newsletter, which delivers the week's top headlines every Monday.
Locusts are of short-hormed grasshoppers of the Acrididae family. Photography: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

Residents of Mérida have reported locusts in Fraccionamiento Los Héroes.

Known for their ability to reproduce and migrate extremely quickly, locusts are a species of grasshopper known for destroying crops and any vegetation when present in large numbers.

The swarm in question seems to be relatively small and has only been spotted in the west of the city. However, there have been several reports of swarms in Yucatán over the last couple of years. In September, a cloud of locust descended over 40 hectares, destroying corn crops. In 2012 the damage was much worse, with the swarm covering an area of approximately 13,000 hectares.

Speaking with reporters from La Verdad, Mario Poot Pech — a member of Yucatan’s board for vegetation sustainability — expressed concern over the apparent lengthening of reproduction cycles observed in Yucatán.  

Large swarms of locusts are nothing new, with records of their destruction being recorded around the world in several ancient texts including the Hebrew Bible. The 20th century brought with it leaps forward in the ability to combat this plague using chemicals, but when dealing with large clouds of these insects, the best farmers can hope for is to limit the damage. 

In May 2020, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations issued an alarming report in which it estimates that farmers in Kenya and Ethiopia are facing the effects of one of the worst swarms in decades. The agency estimates that a swarm covering one square kilometer can consume as much food in a day as 35,000 humans.

Researchers believe the rate of development of severe locust plagues may be on the rise, due in part to changes brought forth by climate change. 

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