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Locusts Poised to Ravage Australian Crops May 21, 2010
Airborn locust swarm
Experts fear gathering locusts swarms could wipe out vast amounts of Australian crops.
An Australian agricultural association warns that an emerging locust plague could ravage such large swathes of crops that food prices will be forced to rise.

The New South Wales Farmers Association predicts that the growing swarms could wreak even more costly damage than the recent drought, known in Australia as "the big dry."

Extensive rainfall over the Outback during the southern summer provided ideal conditions for locusts to lay billions of eggs, according to agricultural authorities.

They say the locusts are becoming so numerous that they have the potential to wipe out wheat, barley and vegetables, and also ravage pastures.

Beyond the economic impact on produce shoppers, such devastation could also leave sheep, cattle and lambs with nothing to eat.

An air force of 40 fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters has been organized to combat the swarms with aerial pesticide spraying.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons