This story is over 5 years old.


Oh Look. Russia’s Annual Plague of Locusts Is Here

Watch a car drive into the heart of locust storm.

Yet another biblical plague of locusts—millions strong—has descended on the southern Russian republic of Dagestan this week, just a month after local authorities were forced to declare a state of emergency because of a previous swarm, according to the area's Ministry of Agriculture and Food.

A very uncomfortable video uploaded to YouTube on Wednesday shows a vehicle driving into what at first appears to be a dust storm or patch of fog, but actually turns out to be a buttload of fist-sized hell insects.


"Today in the Republic for the presence of locust pests surveyed—210.3 thousand hectares of farmland. Populated locust pests—114.1 thousand hectares," announced the Ministry on Thursday according to Google Translate, declaring the scale of the current swarm.

The swarm isn't a new phenomenon in Dagestan, which is situated east of Georgia, hugging the Caspian Sea. In fact these plagues, which can reap destruction on hundreds of thousands of hectares of farmland in the region, have been occurring annually for decades as the insects are drawn to the hot, arid farmlands to feed and breed.

"They devour everything. They destroy green fields and there is nothing, just bare ground. There are the greens over there, which they have not yet reached," a local resident told Ruptly video agency, according to Russian news site RT.

Last year, Motherboard reported that warming temperatures and more frequent intense weather events caused by climate change are causing locust swarms to become more common. Argentina fell victim to the largest swarm of locusts the country had seen in six decades in January 2016.

Scientists are also researching gene drives that would "switch off" genes in locusts that contribute to swarming behaviour.

But for now, Dagestan's authorities and farmers are battling the swarms just like they always have: spraying and praying.

Get six of our favorite Motherboard stories every day by signing up for our newsletter.