The plague of locusts that has swept Israel’s South on and off for the past few
months has been entirely eradicated without damaging farmland, the Agriculture
Ministry announced on Monday.
After 100 days of combating the flying
creatures – in cooperation with the Defense Ministry, the Ramat Hanegev and
Ramat Eshkol regional councils and Negev farmers – the ministry declared victory
against the pests. The eighth of the 10 separate plagues first struck Israel in
early March, swarming in from Egypt just a few weeks before Passover. Since then
– and most recently when dormant locust larvae began to hatch and take flight –
teams have been out and about spraying affected areas both on the ground and via
“Thanks to the cooperative effort and hard work around
the clock from Agriculture Ministry teams, regional councils and Negev farmers,
we were able to eradicate the locusts while preventing damage to plants and
agriculture,” said Agriculture Minister Yair Shamir.
“While managing the
battle against the locusts, the mechanism for handling crises was updated and
improved in the Agriculture Ministry, and now an elaborate crisis management
system is being created that will provide solutions to any kind of crisis with
animals and plants.”
In mid-May, when locust larvae began to hatch from
eggs laid in the Negev, Senior Locust Forecasting Officer Keith Cressman from
the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization met with Shamir to strategize about
the removal of this new batch of bugs. At the time, two-way locust traffic was
still occurring over the Israeli and Egyptian borders.
Field teams from
the ministry are now reporting that only a scattered few individual locusts
remain, no longer in groups, and that there is no evidence of new swarms within
the country or outside its borders. However, if any further invasions do occur,
the Agriculture Ministry stressed that its staff members are prepared to handle
Since the first locust swarm entered the country on March 3, a team
of 25 people in the fields – three people in a “war room” and dozens at ministry
headquarters – have worked on the fight against the locusts, with each field
team working an average of 15 hours a day in their assigned areas, the ministry
said. The cost of treating the swarms amounted to about NIS 7.5 million,
covering about 2,000 hours of spraying from the ground and 428 hours from the
air, the ministry said.
Stay on top of the news - get the Jerusalem Post headlines direct to your inbox!