Exodus 10, which tells the story of Moses bringing the Plague of Locusts to Egypt, states, "Never before had there been such a plague of locusts, nor will there ever be again." Until now. For the third year in a row, Madagascar is infested by a locust plague that has literally turned the sky black, like some terrifying Biblical scene. Besides turning the African island into a horror movie, the current plague is wiping out crops and threatening lives.
Since April 2012, Madagascar has been infested each year by seasonal locust plagues, which devastate food crops and grazing land for livestock, potentially altering the entire economy of the crop-reliant island. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that the current plague threatens the livelihood of 13 million people, including nine million who make a living from agriculture. Despite efforts by the United Nations to spray nearly 2.5 million acres of land with pesticides in 2013, the locusts returned.
According to NPR, a heat wave last week brought the recent swarm of red locusts to Madagascar. One of the affected areas is the capital city of Antananarivo, where buildings and streets are darkened in the dense cloud of insects. To give you a sense of just how big and concentrated these swarms are, NPR estimates that a single swarm may be as big as 460 square miles with 80 million locusts packed into less than a half-mile square.
If you can't wrap your mind around that — or if your mind is protesting the very thought — here's evidence.
What Does a Locust Look Like Up Close?
In case you were wondering.