'Keep Doors, Windows Closed': Delhi Issues Advisory as Swarms of Locusts Reach Outskirts from Gurugram

After swarms of crop-destroying desert locusts reached the outskirts of Delhi on Saturday, the city government directed the district magistrates to make all possible arrangements to distract them.

The Delhi government has put all districts on high alert and asked the district magistrates to coordinate with the fire department for spraying of pesticides and insecticides to prevent a possible attack of the locusts.

An advisory issued by the Delhi development commissioner said residents can distract the locusts by making high-decibel sound through beating of drums and utensils; playing high-volume music, bursting crackers, and burning neem leaves. It asked people to keep doors and windows closed and cover outdoor plants with plastic sheets.

The district magistrates have also been advised to deploy adequate staff to make villagers and residents aware of these measure.

"Swarms of locusts usually fly in daytime and rest during night. Therefore, they should not be allowed to rest during night time," it read. "Night spray of malathion or chlorpyrifos is useful. PPE kits may be used while spraying for safety."

Over the past few months, locust swarms have attacked and destroyed crops in various states, including Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Madhya Pradesh.

Huge swarms of were seen in Gurugram reached on Saturday morning as residents posted multiple show massive clusters of the insects flying in and covering the skies. The invading insects attacked farms and houses in Chhatarpur in south Delhi.

Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai has asked the national capital's south and west districts' administrations to remain on high alert, said officials.

According to an official who attended the meeting, the minister was informed that a small swarm of locusts has also reached the Asola Bhatti area in South Delhi.

Rai asked the Forest Department to play DJs, beat drums and dhols to repel the swarms of locusts, the official said. He has directed officials of the Agriculture Department to make field visits to areas close to Gurugram.

Officials have said the migratory pests are likely to spare the national capital for now and instead head towards Faridabad and Palwal in Haryana.

The swarms of locusts, spread across two kilometres, moved from west to east. They entered Gurugram around 11.30 am, said KL Gurjar of the Locust Warning Organisation, Ministry of Agriculture.

Alarmed at the invasion of the locusts, which settled on trees, rooftops and plants, many residents of Gurugram shared videos from their high-rise perches. At many places in Gurugram, residents kept their windows closed to prevent the insects from entering homes.

In May, India battled a devastating desert locust outbreak. The crop-destroying swarms first attacked Rajasthan and then spread to Punjab, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh.

According to experts, broadly four species of locusts are found in India, desert locust, migratory locust, Bombay locust and tree locust. The desert locust is considered the most destructive.

It multiplies very rapidly and is capable of covering 150 kilometers in a day. This insect, a type of a grasshopper, can eat more than its body weight. A one square kilometer of locust swarm containing around 40 million locusts can in a day eat as much food as 35,000 people.

Experts blame the growing menace of desert locusts on climate change. They say breeding of locusts is directly related to soil moisture and food availability.