ROME, Italy, February 28, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Desert Locust situation continues to remain worrisome along both sides of the Red Sea where hoppers and adults are forming groups, small bands and swarms in northeast Sudan, southeast Egypt, on the Red Sea coast along both sides of the Sudan-Eritrea border, and on the northern Red Sea coast in Saudi Arabia. Some groups and swarms have moved out of these areas recently.
In Sudan, immature adult groups and swarms plus a few mature adult groups and swarms moved from the northeast, crossing the Nubian Desert, and reaching Abu Hamed on the 13th and the Nile Valley as far north as Dongola by the 23rd. Although control operations were immediately launched, damage was reported on winter crops and date palms. Hopper bands and swarms were also present on the southern coast.
In Egypt, immature adult groups and swarms moved north along the entire stretch of the Red Sea coast, reaching Ras Gareb (south of Suez) on the 26th. Other adult groups nearly reached the Nile Valley north of Aswan.
In Eritrea, at least one swarm arrived on the northern Red Sea coastal plains from adjacent border areas in Sudan on the 22nd.
In Saudi Arabia, a few groups of immature adults and an immature swarm moved north in sub coastal areas towards Duba in the past few days. A second generation of breeding is underway on the northern coastal plains between Rabigh and Yenbo where hatching started a few days ago and new hopper groups and bands are forming. Hopper bands are present on the central coast near Lith.
Aerial and ground control operations continue in Sudan and Saudi Arabia while ground control operations are in progress in Egypt.
The current outbreak originated from breeding during the past summer in the interior of Sudan where adult groups and swarms formed and moved to southern Egypt and northeast Sudan in November. A few groups crossed the Red Sea to Saudi Arabia while several groups and swarms appeared in coastal areas on both sides of the Sudan-Eritrea border. First generation breeding occurred from November to January.
There is a low to moderate risk that a few adult groups and small swarms may continue north along both sides of the Red Sea in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, reaching the Nile Delta, the Sinai Peninsula and beyond during periods of warms winds associated with eastward-moving Mediterranean depressions. Israel, Jordan and Lebanon should be on alert.
A second generation of breeding will occur in Sudan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia in March but it is expected to be on a smaller scale due to control operations and drying conditions. Consequently, hatching and hopper band formation will occur during March and new swarms could start to form in early April. By then, ecological conditions are likely to be dry along both sides of the Red Sea, unless further rains fall, and the swarms would move to the vast spring breeding areas in interior of Saudi Arabia and perhaps reach southern Iran and western Pakistan.
All efforts are required to maintain survey and control operations in the affected countries in order to find and treat all infestations and reduce the potential threat to crops and of migration to the spring breeding areas.