The swarms arrive with little warning, just a unique sound as masses of hungry locusts descend upon the rice fields in a Madagascar village. The farmers rush to light fires in the surrounding dry grasses but it is too late - within just three hours 80% of their crop is consumed by the insects. For these subsistence farmers this is a natural disaster but thanks to a UN-supported locust eradication program began in 2013 these scenarios are becoming less frequent. Using helicopters and workers on foot to spray toxic insecticide to help control the infestation.
On the postivie side, the locusts provide a nutritious boost -100 grams of adult locusts yields up to 28 grams of protein and 11.5 grams of unsaturated fat. Grilled on skewers over an open fire or stripped of their wings and fried in a pan the insects augment the Malagasy diet left devastated by the loss of rice crops. Captured with huge sheets and packed into bags for transport the locusts are sold in the local markets. Ingo Arndt brings us images of this invasion and subsequent bounty.