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Israel on 'locust alert' following Egyptian plague

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The Agriculture Ministry issued a special warning to farmers in Israel following the swarms of locusts plaguing neighboring Egypt.

The ministry said Monday that it has been preparing for the possibility that the insect will invade Israel if Cairo fails to deal with the problem properly.

The entire region was placed on a "locust alert" by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in January.

The ministry has set up a special hotline for farmers that may find an infestation.

It also assigned a special taskforce to the mission and has contacted several suppliers of pesticides to ensure inventory is available.

The ministry urged the public not to be alarmed by individual, sporadic sightings of the large grasshopper in urban areas, stressing that "The problem is when they appear in the millions.

"It looks like a black cloud – you really can't miss it – and they will eat anything. They can devour acres of crops very fast," an Agriculture Ministry official told Ynet.

Swarms of locusts have descended on Egypt Saturday, plaguing Giza and Cairo. Small warms have also been spotted in southern Gaza Strip.

Egyptian Agricultural Minister Salah Abad Almoman said the swarms were comprised of some 30 million insects. Damage so far has been estimated at millions of dollars.



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