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Plague of pests: Lots of locusts swarm Israel’s South – watch

CM 24/04/2021

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Residents of Israel’s South may have found themselves pestered by pests over the weekend as a veritable plague of locusts swarmed the area.

The cloud of yellow insects flew into the areas surrounding Eilat and the Arava, with some even coming from the sea.
The yellow color is an indication of their age, as these bugs are mature and skilled fliers, Amir Balavan, urban nature director for the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI), explained in a statement.
 A large yellow locust is seen in Israel's South. (Photo credit: Amir Balavan/Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel) A large yellow locust is seen in Israel’s South. (Photo credit: Amir Balavan/Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel)Throughout history, locusts have been symbolic of major devastation. As depicted in legends and ancient texts all over the world, plagues of locusts were said to caused famines, human migrations and untold destruction, the most famous example being the biblical plague of locusts in the Exodus. 
This reputation is indeed warranted, as while these swarms normally pose little serious danger to agriculture, they can in fact cause massive swarms should the right conditions emerge. In fact, locusts swarms remain a problem to this day. In the last two years alone, locust swarms have devastated around 2.25 million hectares of land around the world and left approximately 20.2 million people facing severe and acute food insecurity. To this day, the website Locust Watch, an arm of the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, helps monitor locust swarms worldwide.
Regardless of their legendary reputations and the sheer size and numbers of the current swarm, the locusts pose no danger to humans or animals whatsoever.
In fact, as Balavan explained it, their presence is actually a huge positive for much of the wildlife, particularly birds.
The swarm comes as huge numbers of migratory birds flock to Israel’s South as they head from their winter homes in Africa to their breeding grounds in Europe and Asia. This stop on their migratory trip is essential, as these forest birds have just finished crossing the Sahara Desert, 30,000 kilometers devoid of food. The Eilat area, as a result, is their first food stop.
And as Balavan explains, these locusts turned this normal food stop into an all-you-can eat protein buffet.
“It’s a crazy protein festival!” he said.
And he isn’t exaggerating. Per unit, locusts have times the protein of cattle, as depicted in the 2010 documentary Global Steak. As such, they could be seen as ideal foods for starving birds. 
And it isn’t just birds that eat them. Throughout history, especially in the Middle East, locusts are consumed by humans – with many having actually considered them a delicacy, with many of them even being considered kosher by the Torah.
However, in the past, some have raised caution over how safe they are, due to the use of pesticides to control locust populations, so perhaps humans should refrain from taking part in a lunch at the locust buffet down South.Alan Rosenbaum contributed to this report.

Source: Jerusalem Post

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