Over the last few days, several social media posts claiming locust swarms invading Mumbai have gone viral. The posts are being shared on the backdrop of reports of swarms of locusts destroying crops across Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra.
According to National Geographic, Locusts have been feared and revered throughout history. Related to grasshoppers, these insects form huge swarms that spread across regions, devouring crops and causing serious agricultural damage.
The current severe locust invasion is India's worst reported attack in more than 25 years. According to reports, the locust attacks are possibly triggered by additional cyclones in the African region. The outbreak may have originated from two cyclones (May and Oct 2018) that led to three generations of breeding with an 8,000-fold increase in the number of locusts.
Twitter User Neetu Chandra Srivastava shared the video with the text, "Hey guys, #locust have reached #Mumbai #Maharastra My aunt, staying in Kolaba sent me this video Please shut your windows too...If they are not letting you go out, you don't let them come in too #Locustsattack". The video has over 18,000 views.
Keyword search led to several posts on Facebook and Twitter with similar claims.
A swarm of locusts invaded Mumbai recently.
The claim is false
Invasion of Locusts is restricted to the eastern part of Maharashtra.
The Logical Indian contacted Rajan Naringrekar, Insecticide Officer of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) over the viral posts.
"All of the social media posts are fake, no locust swarms have entered Mumbai. The Insects are known to follow the direction of the wind, with the southwest wind of the Indian monsoon moving eastward, the swarm entered the hinterlands of Maharashtra and eventually headed to Bangladesh," said Naringrekar.
According to a Hindustan Times report, the Locust Warning Organization (LWO), which works within the Union Ministry of Agriculture, also refuted the claims of locust swarms moving to Mumbai.
"The invasion is restricted to parts of eastern Maharashtra, with districts in Vidarbha affected. The wind direction from Madhya Pradesh is favourable for their movement within this area and food availability in these zones. No such warning has been given for the Konkan region, including Mumbai, as the wind direction will not allow their movement to the coastal city from Gujarat," KL Gurjar, deputy director, LWO told Hindustan times.
Furthermore, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization( FAO) of the United Nations, Locusts do not attack humans or animals and there is no evidence to indicate that locusts carry diseases that could affect humans.
However, Chief of FAO, Keith Cressman told The Wire that 'Worst of Locust Invasion is Yet to Come' and could cause significant harm to India's agricultural industry.
It can, therefore, be ascertained that the posts are spreading false claims that a swarm of locusts invaded the city, causing panic among the Mumbaikars.
Similar claims were also fact-checked by Boom.
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