WATCH | Massive swarm of locusts descends on the Eastern Cape

Business Insider SA
Locusts settling on vegetation near Graaff-Reinet Photo: Philip Kemp
  • A new video captures a swarm of locusts moving through the grasslands outside the Eastern Cape town of Graaff-Reinet
  • Like other African countries, South Africa has seen large locust populations emerge in recent months.
  • A locust swarm one square kilometer in size can eat the same amount of food in a day as 35,000 people.
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A new video shows an alarmingly large swarm of locusts moving through the grasslands outside the Eastern Cape town of Graaff-Reinet.

The video, published on, features a seemingly unending mass of locusts darkening the sky.

Philip Kemp, a government contractor in charge of locust control in the Graaff-Reinet region, says the local locust population has surged since the beginning of March.

"These are the worst swarms I have ever encountered, and I've been involved in locust spraying for many years," he told

Starting in East Africa, swarms of desert locusts have plagued many African countries since last year. The locusts have had a devastating impact on crops in Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia.

According to the United Nations, a locust swarm one square kilometer in size can eat the same amount of food in a day as 35,000 people.

A brown locust outbreak was first reported in the Eastern Cape in October last year. At the time, some 127 farms in Middelburg Cape, Graaff-Reinet, Aberdeen, Cradock, Nieu-Bethesda, Pearston, and Jansenville were affected

According to the provincial department, egg hatching among brown locusts begins in September after the first rains and continues in October with flying commencing in December.

By December, locust outbreaks were recorded in the Free State, the Northern Cape, and the Western Cape. Strong winds were aiding the flight and spread of the locusts, the agricultural department said at the time.

Dr Gerhard Verdoorn of CropLife SA, a non-profit agricultural industry association, says locust swarms are currently seen across the country, with a large congregation in the corridor between Graaff-Reinet and Beaufort West. 

He told that even larger swarms are expected in coming weeks.

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