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Madagascar's Capital City Plagued by Locust Swarm

By Eric Zerkel
Published: August 30, 2014

Clouds of millions of locusts blacked out portions of the sky in Madagascar's capital city of Antananarivo, the scene a part of an ongoing plague that's threatening the food supply of more than 13 million people.

The plague started back in April of 2012, ABC News reports, and was largely limited to the rural, agricultural areas of the island nation. But on Thursday the locusts arrived in hordes in Antananarivo, a city of more than 700,000 people, attracted by unseasonably warm temperatures amplified by the city's urban setting.

“It reminds us of the 10 plagues of Egypt,”  Ronald Miller, a missionary working in Madagascar with his family, told ABC.

And while scenes like the one shown in the video above might seem downright apocalyptic, it's the locusts' affect on crops that's the most troubling. As the Telegraph notes, the current locust swarm is roughly the size of Japan, with the insects chewing up vital crops like rice and corn.

"Locust infestations, if untreated, could wipe out food crops and livestock grazing lands -- and with it a family’s ability to provide for itself," the Washington Post reports.

Previous swarms of that magnitude prompted the Madagascar government to declare a state of disaster across the country. So since 2013, the government along with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), have been spraying insecticides across large swaths of the country to combat locust outbreaks. 

Those measures are part of a three year, $41 million plan to reduce the locust population to protect the livelihoods of millions of people living in Madagascar. So far the plan appears to be working, even though the images coming out of Antananarivo might seem to suggest otherwise. 

As ABC points out, teams from the U.N. and Madagascar have successfully contained the insects in 4,600 square miles of farmland.

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