Locust Outbreak in Libya and Algeria
In February 2012, a Desert Locust outbreak suddenly developed in southwest Libya along the border of Algeria and rapidly spread into adjacent areas of southeast Algeria. Gregarizing adults laid eggs throughout March in both countries. Monitoring and control operations are hampered by the remoteness of the area as well as heightened insecurity due to 2011 events in Libya.
A second generation of hatching commenced in late March and early April in southwest Libya and southeast Algeria where a Desert Locust outbreak is in progress. This is expected to cause locust numbers to increase significantly on both sides of the common border and lead to a potentially dangerous situation in which swarms form and invade the northern Sahel of West Africa at the beginning of summer.
Currently, the hatchlings are forming many dense hopper groups and bands in both countries at densities of more than 5,000 hoppers/sq. metre. Some of the hoppers have reached the second instar stage in Libya while hoppers in Algeria are first instar. The infestations are present in areas where adults laid eggs in late February and throughout March, mainly northwest of Ghat (Libya), extending west to Wadi Tarat and Illizi in Algeria and on the southern side of the Tassili-Ajjer Mountains west of Djanet. New infestations have been found in previously unreported areas north of Ghat on the eastern side of Jebel Idinin. Groups of adults are still present and laying eggs in some areas.
UN-SPIDER is providing support to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in response to the widespread locust outbreak by facilitating access to various satellite imagery over the area. Through the UN-SPIDER Regional Support Office in Kenya (RCMRD) the US satellite EO-1 could already be tasked. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) also tasked Landsat7 acquisitions of the affected area over the next two months. Other options are also being reviewed.