FILE PHOTO: A locust is held by Israeli researcher at the Department of Zoology at Tel Aviv University’s Faculty of Life Sciences December 22, 2015. REUTERS/Nir Elias/File Photo
ROME (Reuters) – Swarms of locusts have destroyed crops and infested houses on the Italian island of Sardinia in the worst such invasion in 70 years, agricultural association Coldiretti said on Tuesday.
The locusts have devastated animal grazing pastures covering some 2,500 hectares (6,200 acres) of land in the central province of Nuoro, between the small towns of Ottana and Orani.
“We are walking on locust carpets”, Coldiretti said in a statement.
Locusts are often seen in Sardinia during the summer months, but farmers said it was the worst outbreak since the end of World War Two and was mainly due to odd weather patterns over the past two years.
“We had droughts in 2017 and a lot of rain in 2018, the ideal climate for locusts to emerge from fallow land and then move to cultivated fields to eat,” said Michele Arbau, from Coldiretti Sardinia.
“There is nothing we can do about it this year,” he told Reuters, adding that there was a risk of even worse infestations next year unless preventive action was taken now.
He said it would be impossible to estimate the cost of the locust swarms until later in the season.
Reporting by Angelo Amante; Editing by Peter Graff