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Rhodes island hit by locusts

- by Joe Mason

Rhodes island hit by locusts.

Tourists probably wouldn't find fighting off locusts one of the highlights of abeach holiday on Rhodes. Local farmers too are particularly concerned at the 'biblical' danger to crops if their numbers get too high. Small wonder then that the recent emergence of the insects on the holiday island of Rhodes triggered swift action by the authorities.

Farmers were issued with chemical sprays in a bid to reduce pest numbers before they get out of control.

Locusts were first spotted in March and top scientists met agronomists and municipal officials to decide on how to deal with the problem.

Chemical sprays were issued in areas around Maloma, Archangelos, Afandou and Archipoli where infestations were particularly high.

Scientists say the outbreak is mainly due to favourable weather conditions and to the particular type of locust involved.

They warn that the best that can be done is to contain the outbreak as it is almost impossible to eradicate the population entirely.

A spokesman said: "These coordinated actions, if implemented for some years may in the long run reduce the population to manageable levels and to mitigate the harmful effects."

Local farmers will have to consider the economic costs of protection and the effect on the natural environment as well as public and animal health.

Farmers and beekeepers have been warned to steer clear of areas where chemical sprays have been applied for at least two days.

Local authorities have asked people to alert them to any locust outbreaks on the island of Rhodes so that swift action can be taken.