People living in Turkey’s Batman region say they are under attack from 15-centimetre-long carnivorous locusts.
Cemal Simsek, a villager in the district of Gercus in the south-eastern Turkish province of Batman, said the locusts appeared during harvesting in the region.
Another villager called Ahmet Soyvural added: “We saw them last year too and researched them. We discovered they are a carnivorous species that do not devour crops.”
However, scientists point out that there is no such thing as a purely carnivorous locust, although they admitted that when they swarm they will eat anything including plants and other insects depending on what is available. They will even eat other locusts.
That mixed diet makes them omnivorous, but not carnivorous and the likelihood of a carnivorous locust is regarded as remote given there is always more plant material around.
According to reports, swarms of locusts are not confined to Turkey, and have affected 23 countries across Africa, the Middle East and South Asia.
The World Bank called it the biggest outbreak in 70 years and that food supplies in East Africa are threatened, affecting nearly 23 million people.
The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization said the outbreak, partly caused by climate change, poses “an unprecedented threat” to food levels.
Meanwhile, the World Bank estimates that the eastern Horn of Africa could face up to 8.5 billion USD (6.8 billion GBP) in damages to crops and livestock by the end of the year.
According to the World Bank, broad prevention measures have been put in place but losses could still amount to as much as 2.5 billion USD (2 billion GBP) worth of crops.
In Kenya, the locusts are eating the same amount of food in one day as all the country’s citizens consume in two days, according to reports.