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Hordes of locusts are sweeping large swathes of the country following the heavy summer rains. Picture: BLOOMBERG
Hordes of locusts are sweeping large swathes of the country following the heavy summer rains. Picture: BLOOMBERG

SA is experiencing its biggest infestation of brown locusts in decades, with heavy rains allowing the crop-eating insects to multiply rapidly.

The infestation, which started in September, has spread to three provinces — the Eastern Cape, Northern Cape and Western Cape — and R80m has already been spent combating it with insecticide, the agriculture department said this week. 

“Due to the amount of rainfall received, the outbreak tends to escalate,” the department said. “The wind is also playing a role in migrating the swarms” to areas where they haven’t been seen before, including citrus farms in the Eastern Cape.

SA has had an exceptionally wet rainy season driven by the La Niña weather phenomenon, which usually results in above normal rainfall in Southern Africa.

In December many districts in the country had their heaviest rain since records began in 1921. 

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