Have locusts reached Mumbai? WhatsApp flooded with messages of pests attacking homes

Updated: May 30, 2020, 15:04 IST | Vinod Kumar Menon | Mumbai

Official confirmation of locusts entering the city is yet to be ascertained though officials debunked claim saying no locust swarm was spotted in Mumbai

On Thursday afternoon, frantic Mumbaikars started calling authorities and journalists to confirm if locusts had landed in Mumbai.

Though official confirmation of locusts reaching Mumbai is yet to be ascertained, messages claiming the presence of the insects in the city were doing the rounds on WhatsApp. Maharashtra state disaster management officials rubished the claims saying that no locust swarm was spotted in Mumbai.

Meanwhile, social media was abuzz with news caliming swarm of locusts had entered Mumbai. A Matunga resident posted a message "Locusts have reached Mumbai, entered houses in Goregaon and Malad." The sender also attached a twenty second video of a insect resembling a desert locust to claim that the pests have landed in Mumbai.

A few minutes later, a resident of Vashi, Navi Mumbai contacted this journalist inquiring if  a locust attack in Mumbai had taken place as social media was getting flooded with messages. He said, "My daughter was asking and I told her, it could be a rumour."

However, within few minutes, a video shot by a resident of a highrise in Eastern Express Highway captured hundreds of swarming insects which looked like locusts. Renowned novelist Shobbaa De also took to Twitter to share a picture of a locust on a curtain.

mid-day sent the videos and photographs to Dr Anil Kohle, professor of Entomology at the College of Agriculture, Nagpur for confirmation. Dr Khole said, "I have gone through the photographs and the video. The insects look like locusts in the pictures, but prima-facie the video footage taken from the highrise of Eastern Express Highway is not conclusive. I have forwarded the video and pictures shared by mid-day to senior state agricultural officials and scientists and they would ascertain the same."

When asked how locusts could reach Mumbai, Dr Khole stated that the insects might have entered the city from Gujarat. The insects had entered Gujarat from Pakistan. "Mumbai has green lungs in both western and central suburbs, and locusts can damage the green lungs. Immediate measures will need to be taken by the authorities," said Dr Khole.

He added, "If they settle, these insects will destroy trees, vegetations, and even gardens. The situation might be challenging, especially when Mumbai is fighting COVID-19 pandemic."

Meanwhile, a swarm of locust that entered Maharshtra, made headway to Terni village in Tumsar taluka in Bhandara late Wednesday night. 

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