ISLAMABAD: The intensive control operations in Pakistan have significantly reduced infestation of desert locusts, and consequently the second generation of breeding that commenced in September is expected to be on a much smaller and more manageable scale, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations said in a new report on Friday.
The ‘Desert Locust Situation Update’ says extensive hatching and hopper band formation occurred in India and, on a smaller scale, in southeast Pakistan. In its forecast, the report says a second limited generation of breeding is expected in Tharparkar and perhaps Cholistan with egg-laying and hatching in September, which is likely to give rise to hopper groups and small bands that will begin to fledge in late October.
Immature adult groups will form in Lasbela where a second generation of breeding could occur in October.
During August, hopper groups and bands continued to develop in Tharparkar, mainly between Chachhro, Nagarparkar, and the Indian border in the extreme southeast of Sindh. Fledging commenced during the first week, causing groups of immature adults to form on the border of India.
In Cholistan, scattered mature solitarious adults and a few late spring-bred mature adult groups were present and breeding near Islamgarh until about mid-month; thereafter, groups of mid-instar hoppers were seen, and fledging started in the last week.
In Lasbela Valley, numerous hopper groups of various instars were present near Uthal.
Control operations treated 26,381 hectares of which 1,200 hectares were by air.
Chairing a weekly meeting at the National Locust Control Centre on Friday, Minister for National Food Security and Research Syed Fakhr Imam thanked the Pakistan Army for assisting the ministry’s teams in locust control operations.
Till now 54,460,000 hectares have been surveyed and 11,248,000 hectares have been cleared of desert locusts.
Director General of the Department of Plant Protection Dr Falak Naz informed the meeting that the department had analysed the areas of Tharparkar and found locust eggs, which were controlled.
He stressed the need for giving more focus on Lasbela as locust activity is increasing gradually in the area.
Balochistan has surveyed 406,236 hectares and 2,050 hectares have been treated.
Published in Dawn, September 5th, 2020