The fall of Muammar Gaddafi has led to a serious problem in Libya, the massive increase in the number of desert locusts.
As the country struggles with a transitioning government pest control operations have been largely ignored. Under Gaddafi’s reign regular pest control sweeps were made to control the locus population, now the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations have warned that nearby African countries could be at “imminent risk” of crop destruction if somethings isn’t done.
In an interview with the Financial Times Keith Cressman, FAO senior locust forecasting officer noted:
“The fall of Gaddafi was an enormous factor, to be honest. It depleted the Libyans’ capacity to monitor and respond as they normally would.”
The locust swarms formed in Libya and Algeria in mid-May after abundant rainfall caused vegetation to grow at faster than normal rates.
In the meantime the uprising along the Libya-Algeria border has made spraying difficult if not impossible in some areas.
The locust problem is compounded because of the massive size of swarms that can develop. A large swarm can include billions of locusts that stretch hundreds of square miles, eating every bit of farmland in sight as they devour their own weight in food every single day.
In 2003 and 2005 farmers suffered through a locust invasion in Africa, although researchers say the current swarm in Libya is not nearly as bad in size.
Officials in Libya have not yet laid out plans to deal with the ever-increasing locust swarm as it continues to devour the country’s food supply.