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BREAKING: Central American locusts arrive in Belize – crops and pastures may be devastated

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Posted: Tuesday, July 14, 2020. 8:32 pm CST.

Photo courtesy: Guatevision

By BBN Staff: Around 6:30 pm today, several by-standers witnessed a swarm of locusts near Falcon Field in San Ignacio, Cayo. Corn farmers in Spanish Lookout also reported locust sightings in their fields earlier today. Following the report from farmers, the regional plant and animal health organization (OIRSA) and the Belize Agriculture Health Authority (BAHA) visited the corn field and took samples in an attempt to confirm the early infestation.

Yesterday, Prensa Libre reported that the Central American locusts were destroying crops, pastures and fruit trees in Peten, just 70 miles from Belize’s border with Guatemala.

Locusts are a species of grasshopper that under the right conditions, multiply rapidly and form swarms that migrate and destroy the foliage of crops and grasses within hours.

The arrival of the locusts in Belize spell trouble for Belize’s already struggling agricultural sector. As the swarms move across Belize, they have the potential to destroy thousands of acres of corn, soybean, sugar cane, vegetables, fruit trees and pastures.

Just around July 10, the locusts began invading several fields in Peten.

Guatemalan authorities say that they have never seen a plague like this one and are trying to implement measures to minimize the impact.

Amidst the impact of climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic, farmers will be faced with yet another challenge and the potential destruction of thousands of acres of crops.

Countries in Central America, including Belize, remain on high alert for the locust swarm.

The Central American locust migrates more than 150 km per day, with a voracity that allows each locust to consume 70 to 100 percent of its own weight per day.  A swarm of 80 million locusts would eat about 100 tons of green food per day, or an area representing over one square kilometer.

 

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