Egypt's Locust Plague Threatens Israel | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

NPR : News

Egypt's Locust Plague Threatens Israel

A swarm of locusts that began in Egypt and has crossed the border into Israel is inviting comparison to one of the Biblical plagues of Exodus.

The New York Times says the swarms are "like a vivid enactment of the eighth plague visited upon the obdurate Pharaoh. Others with a more modern sensibility said it felt more like Hitchcock."

"Locust clouds were darkening skies on Wednesday, three weeks before the Jewish Passover holiday that recalls 10 Biblical plagues, one of them locusts, that struck Egypt during the exodus of Israelite slaves," The Guardian said.

According to Egypt's Al-Ahram, at least 20 swarms of locusts, each comprising up to 80 million insects, have invaded Egypt over the past three months, and there are more believed to be waiting in the wings, so to speak, along the country's southern border with Sudan.

"One swarm of locusts can gobble up 100,000 tons of crops, an amount sufficient to feed 500,000 people for a whole year," Nader Noureddin, an agricultural expert, tells Al-Ahram.

The Guardian quoted officials as saying, "the insects covered nearly 2,000 acres (800 hectares) of desert overnight [Tuesday]."

Israel was put on "locust alert" on Monday, with the Ministry of Agriculture setting up a hotline to report swarms. By Tuesday "grasshoppers the size of small birds were reported on balconies and in gardens in central and northern Israel. But the largest concentration, an ominous black cloud of millions, settled for the night near the tiny rural village of Kmehin in Israel's southern Negev desert, not far from the border with Egypt," The Times reports.

In case you've ever wondered, green grasshoppers and brown locusts are not the same, but are close cousins, says LiveScience:

"But while grasshoppers hop like mad and can be abundant and pesky, locusts can fly. More significant, locusts have the unusual ability to be total loners or to enter what scientists euphemistically call 'a gregarious state' — this is the flying and swarming stage, the stuff of Biblical proportions."

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Searching For Buried Treasure In China, A Writer Discovers Himself

During the Sino-Japanese War, Huan Hsu's great-great-grandfather buried his vast porcelain collection to keep it safe. Hsu went to find it 70 years later, on a trip about more than missing china.
NPR

Cheez Whiz Helped Spread Processed Foods. Will It Be Squeezed Out?

Turns out, the history of Kraft's dull-orange cheese spread says a lot about the processed food industry — and where it might be headed as Kraft and Heinz merge.
NPR

Proposed Payday Industry Regulations Must Strike Delicate Balance

The federal government is moving to reign in the payday loan industry, which critics say traps consumers in a damaging cycle of debt. A look at the possible effects of proposed regulations.
NPR

App That Aims To Make Books 'Squeaky Clean' Draws Ire From Edited Writers

Clean Reader — an app designed to find, block and replace profanity in books — has drawn considerable criticism from authors. This week, makers of the app announced they would no longer sell e-books.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.