The Schistocerca cancellata species can travel up to 150 km per day and devastate crops.
Brazil’s Agriculture Ministry Friday declared a phytosanitary emergency due to a cloud of locusts, which is in northern Argentina and could advance towards the states of Rio Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina, where cereal production has significant magnitudes.
Over the next year, the emergency will allow the Brazilian authorities to implement a plan for the elimination of the plague, import agricultural defenders, hire brigades to combat the insect, and take other actions to protect the agricultural areas of those states.
The Agriculture Ministry decided to begin the implementation of this plan immediately, although initially the locust cloud was expected to advance towards southern Argentina or Uruguay.
According to the weather forecasts for the southern region of Brazil, the rains and the cold make it unlikely that the insects will enter Brazilian territory.
Nevertheless, the Ministry of Agriculture is already working on control measures in case the change in weather conditions favors the arrival of the plague.
In late May, millions of insects moved from Paraguay to Argentina. Their cloud is made up of locusts of the Schistocerca cancellata species, which can travel up to 150 kilometers per day and devastate cereal crops, grasses, and other grasses.
“In one area, the locust cloud reached 10 km in length. One square kilometer of the cloud holds at least 40 million animals. In a single day, these insects can eat as much grass as 2,000 cows,” Folha do Sao Paulo commented.
In Rio Grande do Sul, the Agriculture Ministry negotiated with the Union of Agricultural Aviation Companies (SINDAG) the possibility of fighting the plague with the help of 426 aircraft equipped with sprayers.
"Agricultural aviation is considered worldwide as one of the main weapons to combat locust clouds," the SINDAG director Gabriel Colle said.
In 1938, 1942, and 1946, the Schistocerca cancellata species moved from Argentina and entered the Brazilian states of Rio Grande do Sul, Parana, Santa Catarina, and Minas Gerais.
Among the factors that may explain the proliferation of these insects are modifications of temperature, air's relative humidity, and winds' dynamics.