Locusts Swarm Egypt: Israel on High Alert Ahead of Passover

Monday, 04 Mar 2013 02:15 PM

By Megan Anderle

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Israel is on high alert for locusts, as swarms of the destructive bugs descend on neighboring Egypt ahead of the Passover holiday.

As many as 30 million of the insects have infested Egyptian cities, traveling from the south of the country into Cairo, three weeks before Passover, according to a ministry statement released to Egypt Independent.

As a result, Israel’s Agriculture Ministry set up an emergency hotline and is asking Israelis to be vigilant in reporting locust sightings to prevent an outbreak, which could destroy crops.

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When they get hungry, a one-ton hoard of locusts can eat the same amount of food in one day as 2,500 humans, according to the Atlantic.

So far, Egyptian officials said they have eradicated 95 percent of the swarms that arrived in Cairo on Saturday and that no crops have been destroyed, according to the Jewish Press.

"The current inspection teams at areas targeted by locusts did not witness swarms damaging a single inch of crop," Egyptian Agricultural Minister Salah Abdel Moamen said in a statement, adding that the locusts are "sexually immature and do not depend on plants for energy since they mainly rely on fat stores."

The goal is to contain the infestation as much as possible.

The swarms first appeared in Egypt in November 2012, during their seasonal migration to reproduction areas at the Red Sea coasts. In January, those numbers increased. Since their first appearance, as many as 17,452 locusts were exterminated, officials said.

Locust infestations are nothing new in Egypt. Most notably, in 1954, red locusts ate nearly 250,000 tons of corn in Egypt and North Africa. More recently, a plague of locusts nearly 40 miles wide swept over Egypt less than a decade ago, damaging crops at the majority of the country's farms, The Atlantic reported.

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The locust alert comes ahead of the Passover festival, which recounts the biblical story of the Jewish exodus from Egypt. A plague of locusts was one of 10 plagues God imposed on Egyptians for enslaving and abusing ancient Hebrews, according to the Bible.

Related stories:

Australia Battles Giant Locust Plague

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