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Swarms of locusts in Karamoja may have hatched – Entomologists

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Entomologists in Karamoja are concerned that the eggs laid by the adult locusts during the first invasion are hatching. According to the entomologists, this confirms earlier fears that the eggs could hatch after three to seven months once the conditions are favorable.

This follows an invasion of a big swarm of desert locusts in Napak district on Thursday and in parts of Moroto district which took the community by surprise.

Last month, another invasion was reported in Rupa sub county in Moroto district but was effectively controlled by a team of UPDF soldiers and agricultural experts.

John Peter Okinyom, the Napak District Agricultural Officer and entomologist says they are investigating the origin of the immature locusts to link or rule out whether the new invasion is as a result of hatching. He said it was too early to conclude that the locusts were hatching although there are suggestions that the first swarms of locusts may have laid eggs which can hatch after some time.

Gloria Apio, the District Entomologist Amudat also noted that the pink locusts are characteristic of the early stage of their growth. She added that there is a chance they may have just hatched from the eggs, once the conditions are favorable. She said Amudat had not yet experienced a new invasion of the locusts since April.

The Moroto District Production Officer, Dr Francis Olaka Inangolet said he has sent a team comprising the entomologist and other agriculture experts to the field to get more information relating to the age, and origin of the desert locusts. He said that the department had in February warned that the eggs may hatch and present a challenge in the control of the pests.

He promised to give more information after receiving a briefing from the field officers.

On Thursday, UPDF soldiers used both aerial and hand sprays to kill the locusts.

According to the Third Division Army Spokesman, Maj. Peter Mugisa, the operation was successful killing nearly half of a swarm estimated to be as big as 3 square kilometres.

Uganda was first invaded by the desert locusts in February, after several decades. The country saw swarms of desert locusts migrating from neighbouring Kenya through Karamoja and managed to spread to other parts of the country. They are estimated to move at the speed of 16-19 kilometres per hour.

According to Okinyom, the locusts have caused minimal destruction to crops because they have been landing on trees.

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