Locust swarm reaches state, farmers worried

IMPHAL, 21st Jul: Even as locust attack has been a major issue in several countries including western and northern parts of India, a swarm of a new species of locust was detected in Yairipok Khoirom area in Thoubal district.
CAU department of Entomology head, associate professor Dr Kh Ibohal said that the locust species resembles black locust but they would need further study to identify the exact species and their feeding habit.
The new species of locust was found at Taarang Chingol area by one Haobam Meghachandra of Yairipok Khoirom Makha Leikai.
While visiting the location again, Meghachandra told The People’s Chronicle that he has never seen the species earlier in his life. The black coloured locust with bright yellow dots and small wings were found in a swarm of over 1000 insects at a distance of only 20 to 30 feet from Taarang Loukol and Selom Loukol where agricultural activities are picking up.
Informing that the locust swarm could be found shifting from one place to another in the vicinity, Meghachandra said that farmers in the area are worried as their hard work would come to naught if the locusts attack their crops. He drew attention of the government and other authorities concerned for identifying the species and taking up necessary measures to prevent pest attack on crops.
Meawhile, Dr Ibohal said that black locusts originate from South America and the species was spotted in India in 2019 but for first time in Manipur. This species is among other species like Desert Locust, Bombay Locust and Migratory Locust, which travel in swarm and destroy crops aggressively. If it turns out to be Black Locust, there will be an immediate threat to crops and vegetables. In large swarms, these locusts become gregarious and bring destruction to crops.
Black locusts lay their eggs on the ground and they can hatch quickly during rainy season. One can spray Carbofuran 3G or Fipronil 0.4G on their crops to prevent damage by these locust species, Dr Ibohal explained. On the other-hand, forest and environment minister Awangbow Newmai told media persons that he has discussed the matter with his department’s senior officials and had also requested ICAR team to investigate the matter.
An expert team of forest department will visit the location on Wednesday to identify the species for necessary measures to prevent destruction on crops and vegetables, he added. Expert teams of Central Integrated Pest Management (CIPM) and state agriculture department would also be visiting the location to investigate the matter on Wednesday.
ICAR experts also confided to The People’s Chronicle that the species could be Coffee Locust and if it turns out to be true then chances of attacking crop is minimal as they only target bushes.
Spraying Beauveria Bassiana or Phosalone 35EC by mixing with water could prove effective against Coffee Locust, the experts revealed.

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