Kitui County has recorded over 90% decimation of bands of locust nymphs as motorized spraying continues in the affected areas.
The County has also procured more pesticides to spray the remaining bands to ensure the deadly pests are eradicated completely.
The ravages from the plague of locusts in the County jolted the county government to map the pests’ breeding grounds and has embarked on motorized spraying to eradicate the hatched nymphs.
Speaking in Kitui on Wednesday, the Deputy Governor, Dr. Wathe Nzau who is coordinating the spraying efforts, said the dreaded pests that have wreaked havoc in the semi-arid county over the last two months left behind a trail of millions of eggs being hatched.
“We have mapped the locusts’ breeding grounds particularly in Tseikuru, Mumooni, Kyuso and adjacent remote villages. Our team is on the ground assisted with community surveillance teams to assist in the mapping of new and existing breeding areas of the pests,” said Dr. Wathe.
The Deputy Governor commended over 100 National Youth Servicemen and several community volunteers who are assisting in the spraying of the locusts.
He said that the dreaded pests that descended on crops and pastureland have left eggs that are hatching. “There are fears of renewed attacks from the pests if the nymphs are not annihilated at this young stage,” he said.
“We have embarked on motorized spraying to augment the efforts of the national government’s aerial spraying. We are targeting the hatched nymphs. This will ensure that we eradicate the locusts completely from our county,” said Dr. Wathe.
“Desert locusts live for about three months. After a generation matures, the adults lay their eggs which, under the right conditions, can hatch to form a new generation up to 20 times larger than the previous one,” he said.
Dr. Wathe said that in this way, desert locusts can increase their population size drastically over successive generations if they are not contained at the nymph stage.
He said that the invasion and subsequent multiplication of the desert locusts if not contained will trigger widespread devastation to crops and pastures in a region that’s already extremely vulnerable to famine.
Commenting on the urgency of emergency resources to counter the locusts’ invasion, Dr. Wathe said that as the insects continue to multiply, the need for aid could rise considerably, especially if more aggressive control measures aren’t implemented soon.
The locust invasion is the biggest in Ethiopia and Somalia in 25 years, and the biggest in Kenya in 70 years, according to the FAO.
The government has set aside Sh. 230 million for the campaign of spraying locusts spearheaded by the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Cooperatives.
By Yobesh Onwong’a