Several videos of swarms of locusts making their way into Jaipur have been doing the rounds on social media. In the past few days, the crop-destroying insects have invaded many urban areas including that of Maharashtra, Punjab and Madhya Pradesh, attracted by the green cover in the absence of crops in the fields. Meanwhile, the Delhi government has also issued an advisory on preventive measures against the insects.
Locusts feed on a large variety of crops, including vegetables. In the wake of the crisis, if you have a kitchen garden where you grow vegetables and fruits, it is always better to take some precautionary measures to keep away the insects.
How to protect kitchen gardens from locusts
“Locusts usually move from one large field to another. The effect on small patches is not so much. But it is recommended that you protect them because these insects also tend to eat whatever plants fall on their way,” Manas Arvind, founder, GOFMonline.in, an e-commerce market for selling and buying organic foods.
“If it is small patch of produce, you can cover it with net or a cloth. You can also try keeping cow dung or dry neem leaves,” suggested Arvind.
Here are some other ways to protect your gardens, as suggested by Kapil Madawewala, founder and CEO, Edible Routes, that helps set up kitchen gardens:
1. You can make a garlic-chilli spray at home. Make a paste of garlic and green chilli, add some water to it and spray it on your plants. Even a garlic spray will do as its smell repels the insects.
2. Spray some neem oil on the plants. Research has shown that neem oil causes “solitarisation” of gregarious locust nymphs. They become solitary, lethargic and almost motionless, thus helping in controlling the plague.
3. Create some smoke around the garden area by burning wood or lighting incense sticks to neutralise the swarm.
4. Make noise to keep the insects away. Wake up in the morning between 4-6 am–that is when locusts typically cause more damage–and create a noise by banging utensils or using a loudspeaker, which can scare away the locusts.
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