Millions of locusts have swooped down in a swarm from the sky on to the land of Egypt.
The locust plague struck over the weekend in the Giza region, home to a cluster of famous pyramids, according to reports in Arab media.
Officials estimated that at least 30 million of the insects have swarmed on to the fields and farms about 15 miles southwest of Cairo. The locust swarm is causing massive damage to agriculture in the area, Alwatan News reported.
Swarms of locusts have descended on Egypt, raising fears they could spread to Israel.
The locust alert comes ahead of the Passover festival, which recounts the biblical story of the Jewish exodus from Egypt. According to the Bible, a plague of locusts was one of 10 plagues God imposed on Egyptians for enslaving and abusing ancient Hebrews.
From Wikipedia, we learn that “locusts are the swarming phase of certain species of short-horned grasshoppers in the family Acrididae.” Under certain suitable conditions, they will breed rapidly. Overcrowding leads to this swarming behaviour as the animals suddenly have the urge to form huge groups and migrate. The swarms move great distances while decimating crops along the way, which makes the fear not just a local problem but a regional concern.
This is an interesting view from a local outlet. Plagued by recent disasters, Egyptians fear the worst from locust swarm | Al Bawaba. Four days ago, it appears that panic was spreading about the swarms but officials denied there was any damage. They are keeping a close eye on the spread but have mostly assured residents that it will not be devastating unless… conditions continue to remain favorable and things get worse. It is difficult to predict the behaviors of swarms but agricultural officials are using pesticides to keep the situation from become worthy of the term “plague”.
If anyone finds a reference to this being a sign from God, post in the comments. That’s inevitable, right?
Check out this REALLY great piece from The Atlantic on this developing story.