SYDNEY, Sept. 27 (UPI) — Australia faces the prospect of the worst plague of locusts to hit the country in 75 years, which could cost billions in damage to farms, experts say.
Prolonged warm, wet weather last summer meant that three generations of locusts were born, each one up to 150 times larger than the previous generation, Britain’s The Independent reported Sunday.
After spending the winter underground, the first generation of 2010 is already hatching, and after the wettest August in seven years the climate is again perfect, the newspaper said.
The juveniles will spend 20 to 25 days eating and growing until population pressure will force them to swarm, scientists say.
Experts fear this year’s infestation could be the worst in the 75 years since records were first kept.
“South Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria are all going to get hammered,” locust expert Greg Sword, an associate professor at the University of Sydney, said.
A half-mile wide swarm of locusts can chew through 10 tons of crops in a day.
The New South Wales Farmers Association said an area the size of Spain was affected, and the government of Victoria alone forecasts $1.9 billion in damage, The Independent said.
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