When it comes to the detrimental effects of global warming on our planet, one of the most unexpected issues that needs combating is the plagues of locusts that are currently ravaging through the planet’s farmlands in countries such as Pakistan and Uganda. Swarms of locusts are not uncommon in certain areas of the world, in fact, when they appear at their expected time in their expected numbers it actually benefits the planet and the species living in these areas.
Most recently, Pakistan has declared a state of emergency regarding the swarms of locusts clouding the skies. Officials are stating that the numbers are the worst they’ve been in two decades for the country. This is a huge problem as locusts eat through vegetation so fast you can blink and an entire field will be cleared. Even a small swarm of locusts can eat enough food to feed over 35,000 individuals in just a day.
A single swarm of locusts can contain up to 150 million individual insects per square mile of farmland, where they like to feed the most. Some countries are attempting to combat the issue by using drones to spray pesticides amongst the plagues of locusts, and others are taking a more creative and predatory approach.
China is looking to help aid Pakistan with this infestation problem by deploying 100,000 ducks to the country. Agricultural experts claim that a single duck can eat more than 200 locusts in a single day, and are much more effective, not to mention safer, than spraying pesticides from the sky and into the atmosphere.
“The ducks are biological weapons, while chickens could eat about 70 locusts in one day a duck could devour more than three times that number. Ducks like to stay in a group so they are easier to manage than chickens,” Lu Lizhi, a senior researcher with the Zhejiang Academy of Agricultural Sciences claimed.
Lu went on to explain how within the coming months the Chinese government will begin trial runs of duck deployment as a means of combating the locust issue. After they test how well the ducks do in western Xinjiang, they will be sent to Pakistan; specifically the provinces of Sindh, Balochistan, and Punjab, where the locusts populations are the highest.
On paper, bringing a locusts predator to them to combat overpopulation sounds like a smart idea, however, there are still concerns, the main one being that the arid desert environment in Pakistan is not equipped to handle ducks, who rely heavily on water.
“Ducks rely on water, but in Pakistan’s desert areas, the temperature is very high. Although ducks have been used against locusts since ancient times, their deployment hasn’t yet entered the government assistance programme and is an exploratory method,” said Zhang Long, a professor from China’s Agriculture University.
The United Nations reports that this heavy infestation was likely caused by the 2018-19 cyclone season in the areas that are being affected. Heavy rainfall in arid environments creates the perfect breeding ground for locusts, so when climate change causes natural disasters, such as cyclones, to become more frequent and intense, and unprecedented amount of locust breeding is the result.
Currently parts of China, the Middle East, South Africa and South America are trying to deal with these “unprecedented” swarms of locusts clouding their skies and consuming their resources, only time will tell if the world’s troops of ducks can actually help.
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at email@example.com.