The locust swarms that entered Nepal on Saturday morning are different from those that ravaged crops in Pakistan and north India earlier this month, and do not stay in one place long enough to cause serious harm.
The locusts entered Nepal’s border districts of Sarlahi, Bara and Rupandehi from the Indian state of Bihar between 7-9AM on 27 June, and flew northwards up the river valley towards Palpa, Dhading and Sindhuli.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock had formed a locust task force after the swarms destroyed crops in India’s Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan earlier this month. Its experts say these locusts in Nepal appear to be much more mobile.
“Usually locusts stay in one place and move on only after they have devoured everything in their path, and that is how they behaved in India,” explains Sahadev Humagain at the Plant Quarantine and Pesticide Centre. “The ones that entered Nepal on Saturday are constantly flying on even if there are crops in that place. They look like they are in a hurry be somewhere.”
For example, the locust swarms that were seen in Bara in the morning were in Bhimad of Sindhuli by 3PM, but by 5PM they were in the tea gardens in the hills of eastern Sindhuli – without causing significant crop damage in the places they moved through.
“It looks like the locusts that were supposed to return to Rajasthan lost their way because they were blown by monsoon storms and one group got detached from the main swarm and entered Nepal,” says Humagain. “These are not very large swarms, and also the numbers have diminished as they move up the mountains.”