03 August, 2021

A Two Punch Combo

Locusts in Jaipur
Adult insects can consume roughly their own weight in fresh food per day.
A Two Punch Combo

They come in hordes of millions, flying in robot-like formations some 3km long and shearing all forms of greenery off a landscape in a matter of hours. Like an apocalyptic science fiction movie—the buzzing crepitations from their wings harmonious with the sci-fi parable. They are locusts—tiddi in Hindi. And India, in the middle of a pandemic, is bracing for a biblical plague, probably the biggest locust outbreak since 1993. The alarms are out, amateur videos of swarms engulfing cropland, villages and cities are aplenty. The latest was from Jaipur, where millenials captured an hour-long flypast on their cellphones. People beat utensils, burst firecrackers. The locusts, for the din they make, hate noise.

The insects flew out of the city to greener pasture. Wherever the wind took them, for they fly with the air current—covering up to 150 km a day at 20 kmph. This is summer and the wind is flowing easterly from the hot desert, as we all know blowing high to low pressure areas and carrying with it the migrating pestilence into the interiors from its...

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