A horrifying swarm made up of millions of locusts the size of ‘small sparrows’ have decimated crops across southern Russia as farmers look on helplessly.
The swarm – the worst invasion in years – has already eaten its way through huge swathes of the corn fields in the Stavropol region, and have now turned their attention to ‘other sources’ of food.
Authorities are now desperately treating some 90,000 hectares of farmland with pesticides – but their efforts are being thwarted by high temperatures, decreasing the poison’s effectiveness.
‘We treat a field, but the locusts fly off to the next one,’ Alexander Bublov, a pilot of an aircraft spraying pesticides over the affected fields, said on national television.
‘This is the first time I see this in my 30 years of work.’
Farmers unlucky enough to have had the swarm land in their fields have now been left counting the cost.
Pyotr Stepanchenka said there was ‘nothing left’ of the corn in his fields.
‘The locusts ate it all, from the leaves to the cobs,’ he told Russian television.
But the authorities are trying to play down the scale of the plague, which is thought to have been caused by a recent heatwave, which sent temperatures soaring to nearly 40 degrees.
‘The locusts have settled in a few corn fields,’ a spokesman for the agriculture ministry said.
‘About 10 percent of these fields’ crops have been destroyed.’
However, Tatiana Drishcheva, of the Russia Argricultural Centre, a government organisation, admitted there was ‘no food left’ for the hungry insects in at least four regions, so ‘they have moved on to other sources of food’.
Speaking to CNN, she also revealed the horrifying size of the creatures making up the swarm.
‘They have wingspans of nearly 12 centimetres, like small sparrows,’ she said.