19 October 2020
The Eastern Cape Provincial Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform release a statement on Monday warning of a brown locust outbreak in the province’s Sarah Baartman and Chris Hani districts.
The provincial department said it worked with the National Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development to detect the outbreak.
“The known affected areas are currently Middelburg Cape, Graaf-Reinet, Aberdeen, Cradock, Nieu-Bethesda, Pearston and Jansenville on 127 farms,” the statement said.
According to the statement, the brown locust is a classified agricultural pest in South Africa and while it tends to prefer grasses and cereals, other crops can also be attacked.
The department statement said emerging farmers in the affected districts would undergo training to participate in a pest management program to manage the swarms before they reach the flying stage.
Department entomologist Nolitha Skenjana said the locusts are currently in Stage one and two, which was a “good time for spraying to occur”
“We are now left in estimation with just more than 21 days, then they will be flying, and it will be difficult to spray them at that time,” Skenjana said.
According to the provincial department, egg hatching among brown locust begins in September after the first rains and continues in October with flying commencing in December.
Earlier this year, the department confirmed an outbreak of brown locusts in the northwestern Karoo, with intervention similarly beginning at the early stages.
This followed an outbreak of desert locusts in Eastern Africa, which had devastating impact on crops in Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia.