Between Purim and Passover, swarms of locusts invaded Israel from Egypt, mainly in the Ramat Hanegev region.
For more than two weeks we’ve been coping, the best we can, with huge swarms of locusts coming from the deserts of Africa via Egypt and Sinai, entering Israeli territory mainly in the area of Pitchat Nitzana. The infestation began on Sunday with a relatively small swarm landing near Kmehin, which was sprayed with powerful insecticides in the wee hours of the following morning. Unfortunately, that was just a small “preview” of what was yet to come… on Tuesday afternoon, literally millions of grasshoppers covered the sky – a phenomenon of nature not witnessed since the 10 Plagues of Egypt!
The Ministry of Agriculture sent up two light planes to estimate and monitor the extent of the invasion and locate the primary entry point and resting place. (Locust grasshoppers are not active in colder night temperatures; therefore, the most effective time to spray them is in the pre-dawn hours.)
Millions of grasshoppers are a national attraction, so the media came here to film and cover this rare phenomenon. The Thai farm-hands are delighted to eat this ethnic culinary delicacy (after frying them, of course).
Slightly less enthused are the farmer owners. Fortunately, the majority of Ramat Hanegev agriculture is cultivated inside net-houses and greenhouses, and very little is out in the open, like potatoes, pomegranates and olive orchards.
On Wednesday morning, in an extensive spraying operation, the Ministry of Agriculture succeeded in exterminating most of the locusts before they managed to cause substantial losses for the region’s farmers.
Nonetheless, the danger is still not behind us, as more swarms are expected to arrive. Unfortunately, no cooperation with the Egyptian authorities exists; if it did, we could have access to pertinent, real-time information and a much better, more effective capability for coping with the menace.