Desert locusts that have ravaged crops across East Africa and parts of the Middle East are unlikely to affect Taiwan, where the climate is unsuitable for their survival, the Council of Agriculture said yesterday.
Heavy rain and humid weather in East Africa last year created favorable conditions for the insects to reproduce, allowing them to feed on land along the Red Sea and invade Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, Iran, Pakistan and India, the Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine said.
The UN Food and Agriculture Organization on Friday said that swarms in Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia remain alarming, while in Southwest Asia, the situation is relatively calm with some operations under way to control a few residual summer-bred swarms in India.
Desert locusts rely on air currents for migration, former bureau director-general Feng Hai-tung (馮海東) said on Tuesday.
Although records have shown that they could cross the Atlantic Ocean, whether they would cause damage to an area depended on local weather and ecosystems, Feng said.
The pests eat almost everything green, but Taiwan’s climate is too cool, he said, adding that the insects are often found in regions near the equator or a desert.
There are locust species in Asia, but they have not caused any significant damage over the past thousand years, Feng said.
When locusts from the Philippines migrated to Taiwan a few decades ago, they were controlled through advanced agricultural management methods and insecticides, he added.
Experts at a bureau meeting on Friday said that the possibility of desert locusts entering Taiwan was extremely low, given there is no record of their existence in the nation and because its weather would not suit their survival.
The bureau said it would monitor the locust situation and patrol fields, while readying insecticides and control measures should the pests arrive.
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