Authorities in Pella, northern Greece, on Thursday declared the region officially ?locust-plagued? following reports from across the area that swarms of the insects have descended on farmland, devouring large tracts of crops on which local residents depend for their livelihoods.
The authorities sounded the alert following an emergency meeting with representatives of health services regarding the best methods for effectively exterminating the pests without provoking any undesirable side effects.
The worst affected areas are reportedly near several villages around Giannitsa, including Aravissos, Mandalo, Kali and Plagiari as well as the western section of the prefecture, in the areas of Rizo, Loutrohori and Sevastiana.
The regional official responsible for quality checks on crops, Giorgos Gaitanis, indicated in an interview with Kathimerini that the situation was still manageable. ?It is not yet a huge problem and we are trying to ensure that we keep it under control,? Gaitanis said, noting that the concentration of locusts was denser at the foot of hills than in local orchards.
The official called on locals to report instances of large concentrations of locusts to the relevant department of their municipality so that immediate action can be taken to exterminate the insects and stop them from spreading over ever-larger tracts of land.
Gaitanis said pesticide spraying should be carried out in the morning, when locusts are generally not so active and when bees are usually not in flight and so would not be subjected to the chemicals too.
The unseasonably dry weather in recent weeks is believed to have contributed to the spread of the insects.
Locusts have also descended in large numbers on the northern Aegean island of Aghios Efstratios. Experts recommend that environmentally friendly products be used on the island, which is a protected area in the European Union?s Natura program.