PLAGUE UPDATE

Locusts invade Isiolo on way to Meru

Locusts could start laying eggs in the next two weeks, say experts

In Summary

• FAO says numerous immature swarms formed in eastern Ethiopia and central Somalia during December and reached northern Kenya on December 21.

• This year's infestation could be worse than last year's.

Desert locust movement, arriving in Isolo, heading to Meru.
PLAGUE: Desert locust movement, arriving in Isolo, heading to Meru.
Image: FAO

Desert locusts were on Sunday reported in Isiolo county.

Dr Muo Kasina, chairman of the Entomological Society of Kenya, said by January 10, the desert locusts had reached the county.

So far, the second locust invasion has been reported in Mandera, Wajir, Marsabit, Turkana, Garissa, Taita Taveta, Kitui and Isiolo counties.

“The swarms are consuming a lot since they are the young ones. Some places in Kenya had a good short rain crop and there is fear the swarms could cause much damage. But control efforts are ongoing,” he said.

He spoke to the Star on Monday during an interview on the desert locust update.  

Muo said the young locusts are flying fast and could move to neighbouring Meru county and start laying eggs in the next two weeks or so.

He said the control team is facing difficulties because as they manage those that are already in the country, others are crossing over from Ethiopia and Somalia.  

He said swarms were reported in Taita Taveta county last week and those that were reported in Kitui have since been controlled.

“There is low reporting of the locusts from the public unlike the first locust invasion but this can also be attributed to the training and confidence of the scouting teams. Counties have been highly trained and they are reporting internally, as the locusts are being managed,” Muo said.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization locust update indicated more swarms will arrive during January and spread throughout southern Ethiopia and the northern, central and eastern counties of Kenya.

FAO said the swarms will mature and lay eggs that will hatch and give rise to hopper bands from late January onwards.

The latest locust watch update showed that numerous immature swarms formed in eastern Ethiopia and central Somalia during December. They then moved to southern Ethiopia and reached northern Kenya on December 21 and have spread to eight counties.

“During December, aerial and ground control operations treated more than 830,274 acres or 336 000ha . Nevertheless, intensive monitoring and control efforts must be maintained and extended to all breeding areas,” FAO said.

(Edited by V. Graham)