'MATURE ADULTS'

Birds and bees: locust breeding to start next week

Expert says swarms in Isiolo have turned yellow from pink, 'are now ready to lay eggs'

In Summary

• Eight counties–Mandera, Marsabit, Wajir, Garissa, Isiolo, Samburu, Meru and Laikipia–have actively been invaded. 

• Seven spraying aircraft and two surveillance helicopters have been deployed in the operation. 

An agricultural expert sprays desert locusts in Mandera county.
ACTIVE INVASION: An agricultural expert sprays desert locusts in Mandera county.
Image: STEPHEN ASTARIKO

The desert locusts swarms in Isiolo could start breeding in the coming week, an expert has warned. 

Entomological Society of Kenya chairman Dr Muo Kasina said according to the latest surveillance, the swarms in Isiolo were pink meaning they are mature adults but not ready to lay eggs. 

"But they have started turning yellow which means they are ready to lay eggs. From next week they could be ready to mate and lay eggs. Farmers should be taught how to identify and control the hoppers and manage them accordingly," Mua said.

 

Turkana, Baringo and Tana River counties are under serious threat of locust invasion, a government spokesperson has warned. 

Currently, eight counties–Mandera, Marsabit, Wajir, Garissa, Isiolo, Samburu, Meru and Laikipia–have actively been invaded.

Government spokesperson Cyrus Oguna said in a statement that the swarms, which entered the country through El Wak in Mandera, are leaving a trail of destruction. 

"This situation has caused a lot of concern to the government, especially when it is considered that most regions of the country had just started recovering from prolonged drought and floods that caused a loss of lives and property," he said.

Oguna said the pests are a serious threat to food security given that they feed on large quantities of any green vegetation including crops, pastures, fodder and browse.

"This, therefore, poses as a threat to the green vegetation which can result into an ecological catastrophe, food security owing to loss of food crops, livelihood from loss of livestock and cash crops and wildlife," he said. 

"But the government has up-scaled efforts to combat the invasion and contain the situation to prevent any further spread to other counties."

Seven spraying aircraft and two surveillance helicopters have been deployed in the operation.

Two are from the Desert Locusts Control Organisation of Eastern Africa, two have been hired by the government, three are from the private sector and the two helicopters are from the International Red Locust Control Organisation. 

Oguna said three vehicles mounted with sprayers, 18 motorised knapsack sprayers, 50 handheld ultra-low volume sprayers and 175 personal protective equipment have been distributed to the affected regions. 

An additional 4,700 litres of pesticides have been purchased and distributed. There will also be an additional sprayer-mounted vehicle.

Oguna told Kenyans to be vigilant and report to the nearest government officials whenever the pest is sighted. 

Edited by R.Wamochie