Locusts spread from Africa to Caribbean

ROME -- Swarms of the desert locusts that are ravaging Africa have been blown by strong winds more than 3,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean to more than a dozen islands of the Caribbean sea, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization reported Monday.

The FAO said it was the first time on record the desert locust has been seen in the Caribbean, although other species have reached South America in the past.


Africa is in the midst of what the FAO has said is the worst plague of desert locusts in at least 30 years and possibly in history.

Boats crossing the Atlantic reported sighting the locusts pushed by easterly winds, FAO said.

The locusts reached the Caribbean 3,100 miles from Africa on Oct. 13 and have been seen on Barbados, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Antigua, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, Dominica, Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada, Suriname, Martinique, Monserrat and Guadeloupe.

Many swarms have also crossed the Red Sea to Saudi Arabia where they moved inland to Medina and the Asir. FAO experts said this lateral extension of the plague makes control operations more difficult.

Reporting on the situation in Africa, FAO said:

-In East Africa, there are a large number of swarms in Sudan and they are migrating towards the Red Sea while in Ethopia the plague is worsening. Djibouti has been invaded by swarms and Somalia also is expected to be hit shortly.

-In West Africa, swarms are migrating westward and southward and have invaded Cape Verde, Senegal, Gamia and Guinea-Bissau. There is a second generation of hoppers in Mauritania, Mali, Senegal, Niger and western Chad.

-In northwest Africa, some swarms reached central Algeria and southeast Morocco at the beginning of October. Locusts also have been reported in northern Algeria, the extreme south of Tunisia and southwest Libya.

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