Locust swarms are choking the skies of the Middle East, as the insects are now hatching and reaching plague-like proportions following an exceptionally rainy 2020 that provided the perfect breeding grounds.
The vegetation-chomping insects are threatening Saudi Arabia, Eritrea, Sudan, and Yemen. The United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization says the 2021 locust cycle in these countries is expected to be worse than in previous years. Last year also brought an exceptionally bad locust cycle in the region.
"As the region is already extremely vulnerable, given three years of drought followed by last year's heavy rains and floods, compounded by COVID-19 and insecurity, desert locust swarms represent an additional shock that can have severe consequences for food security and livelihoods," said Keith Cressman, an expert with the United Nations FAO's Desert Locust Information Service.
"A one square kilometer-swarm can consume the same amount of food in one day as 35,000 people."
Video footage captured February 23 in Mahayil, Saudi Arabia, shows locusts descending on the town and surrounding buildings in every direction.