Huge swarm of hungry locust in flight near Moronda

  • Areas in the Northern Cape are experiencing a locust outbreak and some residents are panicking. 
  • But those with insects in their homes are advised not to kill them. 
  • According to the Department of Agriculture, Environmental Affairs, Rural Development and Land Reform, the best thing to do is to turn off your outside lights at night, or chase them away with a broom. 
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Some parts of the Northern Cape are facing a locust swarm and the Department of Agriculture, Environmental Affairs, Rural Development and Land Reform advises the public not to panic or kill them, but to chase them away "politely".  

Panicked residents from most of the affected areas – Upington, Kimberley, Prieska, De Aar, Kuruman, Springbok, and Kathu – have flooded the department with calls seeking help, as the locusts enter their yards and gardens.  

According to Northern Cape MEC Mase Manopole, the public should not be alarmed as the pests are not harmful to people. 

A plague of locusts
A plague of locusts disturbs young players during a soccer tournament (Supplied)

"Control measures are currently being implemented to curb the new spread of the locusts in Namakwa, John Taolo Gaetsewe, and Frances Baard. The current strong winds are supporting the flight and spread of the locusts, especially to our dwellings," said Manopole in a statement.  

Spokesperson for the MEC Zandisile Luphahla said the easiest way to get rid of them is to gently shoo them away with a broom, feather duster, or stick.  

"We are encouraging the community not to panic. The only thing that they need to do when they spot them in their yard is to politely and nicely try and chase them away," he said. "We know that most of them do listen, and they will go," he added jokingly. 

Locusts swarm a football field (Supplied)

Residents are also advised to turn their outside lights off at night to avoid attracting the plague of brown locusts.   

"If you have the lights on, you attract them. They like places where there is more light," Luphahla said.   

Although the department did not share other ways of getting rid of the locusts, here are other methods we found useful;  

Sprinkle flour on your plants 

To prevent locusts from eating your plants, it is you can dust the leaves with flour. This gums up their mouth and causes them to starve and die. A little sprinkle on the leaves of affected plants should do the trick. The best flour to use is unsalted.  

Garlic spray  

The smell of garlic is known to ward off grasshoppers and other garden pests. To get rid of locusts, you would need to spray a mixture of water and garlic – which was pre-boiled and left to sit overnight – on plants that are affected. The underside of the leaves should be sprayed as well.   

See also: WATCH | Massive Swarm of Locusts descends on Eastern Cape 

Chickens in the yard  

Having your own birds such as chickens, or even peacocks, can help, as most of these eat flying insects and pests such as grasshoppers. These make good protein-dense meals for the birds.  

A more long-term solution would be to have natural predators of locusts and grasshoppers such as swallows on your property. A birdfeeder in your garden might help attract such birds. Other grasshopper predators include spiders, rodents and centipedes.  

Although the MEC's spokesperson encourages residents to do what they can to chase the locusts away, he also reiterates that killing them is not supported. 

"We (are) not going to say kill them because we would be breaching what we stand for. We will not advocate for such but let's try all the tricks in the book to chase them away," said Luphahla.  

The department has also stated that it cannot assist with chemical control measures to get rid of the locusts.  

"Unfortunately we are prohibited by law to control the spread in our dwellings because of the nature of (the) chemical we are using," said Manopole.  

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