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August 6, 2020

Fifth Swarm of Locust advancing in Northern Argentina

Author: Michael Cordonnier/Soybean & Corn Advisor, Inc.

Swarms of locust on northern Argentina continue to keep authorities on edge as they try to contain the outbreak that started in May. Authorities from the National Agricultural Sanitation and Quality Service of Argentina (Senasa) announced on Tuesday that there is now a fifth swarm of locust moving across northern Argentina.

The first swarm is still located in the province of Entre Rios near the border with Uruguay, but fortunately it has been neutralized for the most part with multiple insecticide application. Of the five remaining active swarms, two are located in the province of Santiago del Estero, one in the province of Chaco and two in the province of Salta. The latest swarm was just detected by authorities from Senasa on Monday afternoon.

All of these swarms are the grasshopper species Schistocerca cancellata, which is the major swarming species in subtropical South America and it is also called the South American Migratory Grasshopper. They all originated in Paraguay and have followed a similar path south into northern Argentina.

During May and June, cold and wet weather limited the movements of the insects, but as soon as the temperatures warmed up, the swarms started to move once again. One of the swarms in Santiago del Estero has moved 250 kilometers since Saturday.

The closest active swarm to Brazil is approximately 500 kilometers from the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul. The National Syndicate of Agricultural Aviation Companies in Rio Grande do Sul (Sindag) have put at least 70 airplanes at the disposal of state authorities along the border of the state should they be needed if a swarm enters Brazilian territory.

The major agricultural crops at risk in Argentina thus far from the locust have been fruit crops and winter wheat, but spring planting of corn in Argentina could start as soon as the second half of August.