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Thursday, 15 June, 2000, 13:06 GMT 14:06 UK
China plagued by locusts
Swarming locusts
Locusts apparently thrive during droughts
By Rupert Wingfield-Hayes in Beijing

Huge swarms of locusts have been destroying crops in northern China - a region which is already suffering from its worst drought in more than a decade.

Two areas have been struck by the locust plague at once.

In north-central China, at least six provinces have been hit by massive infestations, and in the far north-western province of Xinjiang, another huge swarm of insects is rapidly chewing its way through the summer crop.


Hatching locust
The finger of blame is being pointed at Kazakhstan
In the worst affected areas of Xinjiang, local farmers are reporting infestation levels of 4,000 locusts per square metre.

According to one local paper, this is the biggest outbreak of locusts in a quarter of a century.

Two years of extremely dry weather, which is already wreaking havoc on northern China's farm land, is also being blamed for this latest problem.

Cash-strapped

Locusts apparently thrive during droughts.

Meanwhile, neighbouring Kazakhstan is being blamed for the problem in far west Xinjiang.

The central Asian republic was hit by its own plague of locusts last year.

Strapped for cash, Kazakhstan was unable to pay for the aerial spraying needed to destroy the insects.

The Chinese claim that eggs laid there last year have now hatched, and the insects moved into China.

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See also:

25 Aug 98 | Asia-Pacific
Fowl plot to hunt Chinese locusts
29 Apr 99 | Asia-Pacific
Locusts plague Turkmenistan
24 Jul 98 | Asia-Pacific
China's army of wasps
23 Jul 99 | Asia-Pacific
Locusts swarm across Central Asia
11 Oct 99 | Sci/Tech
Hopes for stopping locusts
27 Apr 00 | Asia-Pacific
Australia faces plague of locusts
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