Nature is currently striking mercilessly in Italy. Northern Italy is suffering from a historic drought. In Sardinia, billions (!) of locusts are currently spreading - with a destructive power of fire....
For the fourth year in a row, Sardinia is suffering from an invasion of locusts. The focus of the animal feeding frenzy is once again the centre of the island. Currently, no one leaves the house between 9 am and 5 pm if they don't have to. The largest swarms are on the move at this time.
#Italy: Crisis meeting in #Rom – 1TP4Dryness Plague of locusts in #Sardinia -Like something out of a horror film - Talk of biological catastrophe/exception- 50,000 hectares of grain & vegetable fields destroyed #ClimateChange #ClimateCrisis #Cavallette #Sardegna1/x pic.twitter.com/iv7zIyTH84- affeu (@affeu2) June 17, 2022
A sardine films the extent of the animal destruction: the whole floor crawls
The epi-centre of the feeding invasion is the Ottana Plain in Nuoro province. By now, it is crawling in all places here, from Noragugume to Bolotana, from Illorai to Olzai, Teti, Sarule, Sedilo, to Nuoro and Ottan.
Here is the centre of the locust attack in Sardinia
In the centre of the island, most people live from agriculture. The locusts eat everything. According to the Italian farmers' association Coldiretti Nuoro Ogliastra, the seeds on 30,000 hectares of land have already been destroyed - and the trend is rising. Animal keepers are also affected because the insects also raid their food supplies. Locusts are polyphagous insects: They eat virtually everything.
The cool May and hot June have created optimal breeding conditions for grasshoppers, plus the preceding mild and dry winter. Billions of grasshoppers have hatched in the past weeks.
The grasshoppers lay their eggs in small holes in the ground in autumn. They mature between May and July. The better the conditions, the more insects hatch.
Already in mid-June, the first Sardinian politicians sounded the alarm, warning of a "biological catastrophe". The Italian Minister of Agriculture Stefano Patuanelli recently spoke of a situation like in a "horror film".
Authorities also try to kill the animals with pesticides from drones and cars - "a senseless measure", however, says the farmers' association. "Natural methods such as ploughing the fields and using insects to control the locusts are the most effective methods against the locust plague."
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Blame: abandoned fields and climate change
In addition to climate change, the increased abandonment of fields is a reason for the locust plague, according to the association. There, the insects can develop in peace - and then attack cultivated land.
The locust plague was foreseeable. For four years now, the insects have been eating their way through the summer in Sardinia. Every year there are more of them, every year the damage is greater. A single locust provides 30 descendants the following year. In 2019, only 2,000 hectares of crops were destroyed, this year it will be at least 30,000 hectares.
As a study by the Sardinian University confirms, it would be most effective to cultivate the fallow fields at least superficially. This way, the eggs would come to the surface and be destroyed by cold and parasites. According to studies, biological control methods such as fungi, birds and other insects have also proven effective.
The Coldiretti Nuoro Ogliastra association is calling on the government to finally act. Its members are prepared to plough the fallow fields from autumn onwards. Even then, it would take two to three years to control the locust infestation.
It is not yet possible to estimate the total damage in Sardinia.
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Sources: Coldiretti Nuoro Ogliastra/Facebook; VelvetMag.it: "Sardegna, invasione di cavallette: in fumo 30mila ettari"; Merkur.de: "Zerreißprobe in Italien: Nach Gardasee-Diskussion - Heuschreckenplage auf Sardinien: "Wie im Horrorfilm""; ORF.at: "Heuschreckenplage in Sardinien: Island demands help from Rome"; Topagraronline.de: "Locust plague in Sardinia"