Feb 18, 2016

In Argentina, a locust plague for the ages

Santiago del Estero Province
Argentina
by
Amy Mayer
,
Net Nebraska
Parts of Argentina have been swarmed by a South American locust, Schistocerca cancellata, pictured here in Santiago Del Estero province. It is not found in North America. Photo: Juan Pablo Karnatz
Parts of Argentina have been swarmed by a South American locust, Schistocerca cancellata, pictured here in Santiago Del Estero province. It is not found in North America. Photo: Juan Pablo Karnatz

The normally dry northern region of Argentina has a problem of biblical proportions.

Farmers there are struggling with a massive outbreak of locusts. Dark clouds of the green-brown bugs cast shadows when they fly overhead and when they land, they cover the ground.

“It is really, really, amazing when you see the locusts because you see millions of them together,” said Juan Pablo Karnatz, who raises cattle in Santiago del Estero, about 600 miles northwest of Argentina’s capital, Buenos Aires. “When you think they can be more millions flying around, it could be a disaster.”

While it’s not unheard of for northern Argentina to have locust swarms, it has been at least 50 years since an outbreak of this magnitude. The swarms can stretch to eight square miles, Karnatz says, and they eat everything in their path