By Salim Mwavumbo
Kilifi County Governor Amason Kingi has urged area residents not to scare away or eat desert locusts that have been sighted in all the seven sub counties of the devolved unit.
“Trying to scare them away will only cause the insects to spread further and complicate control measures,” he said adding, “Do not eat them either as they might have traces of chemicals from previous spraying encounters.”
In press statement released on December 5, 2020, the county chief at the same time urged the residents not to panic, saying the situation was under control.
He said an emergency surveillance team dispatched Friday following reports of locust invasion in Magarini subcounty had established that swarms of locusts had indeed invaded the county and were spreading fast.
“Further surveillance established that the invasion had, by Friday evening, spread to all the seven sub-counties in Kilifi County,” he said.
He said the team had observed that the insects were at the adult stage, yellow in colour and believed to be breeding that seemed to hibernate during day time but were active after 3 pm.
He said the estimated population density was 30 insects per square meter and 3 insects per square meter in Marafa and Masindeni respectively and that there were predatory birds feeding on the them.
“In most cases, the insects were spotted flying very high. Using smart phone technology, the group tracked the locusts and also took coordinates of all the areas where they were spotted,” the county chief said.
He said his office was consulting with teams from the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and the Ministry of Agriculture with a view to conducting aerial surveillance.
“Given the rapid nature of the desert locust migration, we are also networking with neighbouring counties on surveillance,” he said adding, “The team is currently making arrangements to commence ground and aerial spraying within 10 days.”
Mr. Kingi said experts had determined that the swarm of locusts were not aggressively feeding at the moment as they are more intent on breeding.
“This explains the minimal damage done to crops and vegetation so far. Consequently, the experts have urged and continue to remind residents not to physically chase away the locusts perched on vegetation in their neighborhoods,” he said.
He said the response team would capitalise on the pests’ localised presence and target them for ground and aerial spraying.
He asked residents to report any further signs of invasions to the following hotlines: 0722440831 & 0721598517 (County headquarters); 0720829157 (Ganze), 0727507900 (Magarini), 0722470561(Kaloleni), 0723206092 (Kilifi South), 0722493952 (Kilifi North), 0726393081 (Rabai), 0729870652 (Malindi).