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Published:August 3rd, 2007 08:34 EST
Locust infestation in Yemen threatening and extremely serious, UN agency warns

Locust infestation in Yemen threatening and extremely serious, UN agency warns

By SOP newswire

The locust infestation in Yemen remains "threatening and extremely serious" as egg-laying, hatching and band formation of the crop-devouring insects continue, with young immature adults forming small swarms and moving into agricultural land, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned in its latest update.

"In the past few days, new infestations have been found in areas that had not been surveyed previously," FASO said, citing remote wadis, dry river beds, of the interior of Al-Mahara region near the Oman border. Other infestations were discovered in wadis in the plateau south of Wadi Hadhramaut.

Ground teams using vehicle-mounted equipment have treated nearly 19,000 hectares since 4 July in some areas. But control operations are hampered by the presence of beehives and because many infestations are in extremely remote areas. Nearly a dozen teams are working in the field. A fixed-wing aircraft is undertaking aerial control operations that started this week. A helicopter will assist ground teams in surveying the extent of the infestations and identifying control targets.

"More swarms will form during August," FAO warned. As vegetation dries out, swarms are likely to move within the vast interior between Marib and the Oman border where they will mature in areas that remain green. If more rainfall occurs, egg laying could start by the end of August with another generation of hatching and band formation in September.

Most of the swarms that form during August are expected to stay in the interior but there is a slight risk that some could move to the highlands around Sana`a, the capital, and to the Red Sea coastal plains where good rains have fallen, or to southern Oman and continue to the Indo-Pakistan border, where small-scale breeding is in progress in desert areas.