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Why locusts are descending on East Africa

In a region where food is already scarce, billions of insects are now eating everything in sight.

Kimberly Mas is a senior producer at Vox video focused on science explainers.

Since late 2019, East Africa and the Middle East have been experiencing their worst locust outbreaks in decades.

A small locust swarm can eat more food than 35,000 people. But some swarms in the area have grown to more than 2,000 times that size. Billions of insects have formed swarms so thick that airplanes have been forced to divert their course. Some areas in Ethiopia have reported nearly a 100 percent loss in vital crops. And controlling the locusts has been especially difficult alongside the Covid-19 pandemic and the restrictions put in place to fight it.

What exactly made this year so bad? The weather. The desert locust thrives when dry weather turns wet. And in 2018 and 2019, a series of freak weather events brought record-setting rainfall to the Middle East and East Africa.

To learn more, check out the video above and read our in-depth article by Umair Irfan.

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