Share

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.

Featured Blogs

Pacific Northwest on Track for Warmest Summer on Record

By Christopher C. Burt
August 1, 2015

Another heat wave has engulfed much of the U.S. Pacific Northwest the past few days with Seattle, Washington now having observed twelve 90°+ temperatures so far this summer, an all-time record (9 such days in 1958 was the previous) and also July has been their warmest month ever observed. For some of the cities in the Northwest this has been the warmest June-July period ever measured and, barring a very cool August, will end up being the warmest climatological summer on record (June-August). Here are some details.

Guillermo Gathers Steam in NE Pacific; Invest 94L Clings to Life

By Dr. Jeff Masters
July 31, 2015

Hurricane Guillermo is stepping up its game in the Northeast Pacific, as it moves along a steady west-northwest course that could bring it near the Hawaiian Islands next week. In the Atlantic, Invest 94L shows little sign of strengthening, while in the Northwest Pacific, Tropical Storm Souledor could be approaching Japan as a strong typhoon next week.

PWS Service Interruption Update

By Shaun Tanner
June 16, 2015

The development team here at Weather Underground has been hard at work producing a new homepage! Please take a look at the sneak peek and tell us what you think!

Meteorological images of the year - 2014

By Stu Ostro
December 30, 2014

My 9th annual edition.

2013-14 - An Interesting Winter From A to Z

By Tom Niziol
May 15, 2014

It was a very interesting winter across a good part of the nation from the Rockies through the Plains to the Northeast. Let's break down the most significant winter storms on a month by month basis.

What the 5th IPCC Assessment Doesn't Include

By Angela Fritz
September 27, 2013

Melting permafrost has the potential to release an additional 1.5 trillion tons of carbon into the atmosphere, and could increase our global average temperature by 1.5°F in addition to our day-to-day human emissions. However, this effect is not included in the IPCC report issued Friday morning, which means the estimates of how Earth's climate will change are likely on the conservative side.