Harrowing video from southern Russia shows swarms of locusts blanketing parts of the country, wiping out whole fields of crops and persisting in the face of government attempts at eradication. CNN reports that the invasion is on a scale that local officials say has not been seen in more than 30 years.
Farmers, stuck with fields of crops chewed to stubs by the pests, are frustrated that the government has been unable to provide relief. The Ministry of Agriculture has declared a state of emergency and pesticide-spraying planes have made passes over affected areas with little result, a failure authorities attribute to unusually high temperatures. The swarms, they say, are also highly mobile, moving quickly to new areas as they gobble up the local food supply.
The locusts are notable not only for their large numbers, but for their intimidating size. Perhaps the most chilling aspect of the above video is the rustling-paper sound generated by thousands of substantial wings taking flight, and CNN attributes to Tatiana Drishcheva of the Russia Agricultural Center this daunting description of the insects: “They have wingspans of nearly 12 centimeters, like a small sparrow.”