Plague of Pests

Warning:  High “Ew” factor.

Just before Pesach, Israel went on alert to a possible attack from Egypt….of one of the 10 plagues in the Pesach story.  Locusts were devastating crops in Egypt, the Sudan, and other neighbouring countries, sited up into the Sinai desert, and in the fortnight before Pesach swarms in the tens of thousands were crossing the border into Israel as well.

dry bones locusts

What’s the problem?  These little critters can eat their weight in crops every day; they can fly more than 80 miles a day – in swarms as dense as 200 million per square mile; and females can lay as many as 1,000 egg pods in roughly 10 square feet.   In other words, one ton of locusts (just a fraction of your average swarm) can eat about as much food as 2,500 people can in a day.  Interestingly enough, they are reported to be harmless individually or in small groups.  It’s only the big swarms you have to worry about.

Many crops in the area of the Negev were destroyed or at least affected, but the Agriculture Ministry began spraying locust swarms from the air and on the ground almost immediately.  Added to that, some Israelis took a practical approach…and put locusts on their menu.

Locust is the only insect which is considered kosher.   Specific extracts in the Torah state that four types of desert locust – the red, the yellow, the spotted grey, and the white – can be eaten.  Groups of people hurried south to capture as many as possible before they were sprayed.  Some enterprising chefs began serving locusts.  Crunchy and fried, baked in the oven for a snack, or covered in chocolate.

Chef Moshe Basson and one of his locust creations

Chef Moshe Basson and one of his locust creations

I did not sample any of the varieties.  I really have no desire to eat grasshoppers.  So I can’t tell you if they’re good or not.  Sorry.   (And besides, those pesticides…)

Although the Ministry efforts were very effective, thanks to strong winds some smaller groups of the locusts made their way north.  Partner saw a bunch of them while walking the dog.  Then we found dozens at the beach.  (Nothing but sand and stone – I guess their GPS was faulty…)  Some were just hanging out on some pillars by the sea.


Some actually had gotten stuck in the sand.


They were a source of much interest and not a little screaming by some…   Mostly children, but a few adults as well.


I thought they were pretty fascinating, myself.

In any case, the danger to Israel seems to have passed.

No more plagues, please…   Been there.


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2 Responses to “Plague of Pests”

  1. feelgoodknitting Says:

    We’re due for a similar “plague” of cicadas here this summer. Not looking forward to it. Ick.

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