The Delhi Agriculture Department in an advisory said, "As the swarm of locusts flies in daytime, and rests during the night, it should not be allowed to rest at night." Delhi's forest department is considering covering the saplings in its nurseries with polythene to protect them against the desert locust attack.
In Uttar Pradesh's Jhansi, which has been battling the pest since last week, officials on Thursday said a large number of locusts have been killed with pesticides all through the night but some have moved towards Parichha town.
Their further movement would depend on the direction of the wind, Deputy Director, Agriculture, Kamal Katiyar, told news agency PTI. The districts of Lalitpur, Agra, Mathura, Shamli, Muzaffarnagar, Baghpat, Mahoba, Banda, Chitrakoot, Jalaun, Etawah and Kanpur Dehat are believed to be at risk. The Uttar Pradesh government has issued an advisory was to beat drums, tin containers, metal plates and create noise to drive away locusts in case of an attack, PTI reported.
Similar orders have been issued in neighbouring Madhya Pradesh, where farmers in Sehore district were seen beating utensils. Farmers in Mandsaur have gone a step further by hiring DJs, apart from beating drums and using loud sounds of vehicles without silencers. The district administration in Panna has started blaring sirens from police vehicles to scare the locusts away.
Madhya Pradesh Agriculture Minister Kamal Patel on Thursday said that the government is planning to declare the locust swarm attacks as natural disaster, following a survey on the losses. "Farmers will be able to get compensation for the losses due to locust swarm attacks when the problem is declared a natural disaster," Mr Patel said.
In Maharashtra, the Vidarbha region has seeing significant crop damage due to the locust attack. Swarms of locusts have attacked orange crop and vegetable fields in some areas of Nagpur and Wardha districts. Fortunately, with the Kharif (summer) sowing season yet to start, the amount of standing crop at this time is relatively less.
The swarms, stretching up to 17 km in length, had first entered farms in Fetri, Khangaon in Katol in Nagpur district and in Ashti taluka in Wardha district on Saturday night. Now, they have entered the districts of Gondia and Balaghat.
At least seven districts in Haryana are also on high alert. Tractors mounted with chemical sprayers are being used. The Odisha government too has issued guidelines for farmers in the state and asked them to take steps to prevent an attack.
In worst-hit Rajasthan, about 90,000 hectares in 20 districts of Rajasthan have been affected due to the locust attack, an official said Thursday. Crops spread over 4,000 hectares have been destroyed in in Sri Ganganagar district alone.
Locusts, which can cover up to 150 km a day, can eat more than its body weight. A one square kilometer of locust swarm containing around 4 crore locusts can eat as much food as 35,000 people in a day. 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.
(With inputs from agencies)