Locust infestation in Karas

Swarms of egg-laying adult brown locusts from South Africa have been invading the Karas region since mid-December.

10 January 2022 | Agriculture

ELLANIE SMIT

WINDHOEK

About 80 000 hectares of farmland in the Ariamsvlei area has been sprayed to fight off another brown locust outbreak in the Karas Region.

According to the agriculture ministry, this is the third locust outbreak in the region and as of last week spraying was carried out from the farm Nakop up to Swartkop, covering approximately 80 000 hectares.

“The good to fair rain received in the Ariamsvlei area, measuring up to 50 mm, has created a favourable breeding environment for locusts,” said ministry spokesperson Jona Musheko.

According to him these areas have been receiving a daily influx of egg-laying adult brown locusts from South Africa.

Breeding cycle

“Since mid-December 2021, we have been detecting swarms of brown locusts. Spraying teams have been dispatched and are in the field.”

He said hoppers have started hatching but have not formed groups yet.

“We have also spotted some instar [young] locusts in the Karas Mountains.”

He said given the inaccessible terrain, it is difficult to assess the scope of the infestation.

“It is possible that there are more undetected first instar locusts and we are expecting more reports in the next two weeks as soon as they begin hopping.”

He explained that Locustana pardalina, better known as brown locust, traditionally breeds and propagates in the southern part of Namibia, mostly in the Karas region.

The core breeding areas of brown locust are in Karasburg East and Karasburg West constituencies, and in the !Nami?Nûs constituency close to Aus.

Vigilance

The first outbreak was reported on 21 September last year by a commercial farmer and a team was immediately dispatched, Musheko said.

“Unfortunately, they could not trace the small swarm.” The initial control commenced on 3 November last year in the Karasburg district.

By then, the infested area was estimated at approximately 800 000 hectares of farmland. Over 240 000 hectares were surveyed and about 2 000 hectares sprayed.

“We appreciate the cooperation we are getting from farmers, and we encourage farmers to continue monitoring and scouting their farms and reporting any new incidents of locust infestations at our Karasburg office,” said Musheko.

[email protected]

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