A tiny Greek island has declared a state of emergency after being plagued by a swarm of locusts. Villagers and volunteers have been trying to spray pesticides all over the sleepy port island of Agios Efstratios in an attempt to fix the problem.
But they have only had limited success and declared a state of emergency after the rampant pests ate much of the islands vegetation – leaving livestock starving.
Students from a university in Athens have arrived to try and help the 200 residents to get rid of the swarm using bug spray but have been hampered by the Aegean island’s rocky terrain.
The island, which lies between Greece and Turkey, is regularly infested with locusts but locals say this plague is bigger than ever.
The students from the Agricultural University of Athens, supervised by scientists, sprayed the locusts with pesticides diflubenzuron and spinosad.
Stella Spanou, a member of the local authority, said: “It’s difficult because of the landscape – they have to go on foot.
“The eco-friendly chemicals are working, they got good results.
But there are still many locusts because they couldn’t spray everywhere.”
The students had to get a special government permit for the chemicals as they were not registered for use against locusts specifically.
Ms Spanou revealed that the island has asked the Greek government to declare a state of emergency numerous times before but that it was too “expensive” to do so.
She told the BBC: “They acted this time because the problem is really big.
It means we can overcome bureaucratic problems and do things much quicker.”
A state of emergency grants the local authority temporary powers, access to resources and administrative tools to deal with particular problems.
The island has one village where locusts have eaten their way through numerous vegetable gardens. The island rare flowers and insects and is a part of the EU’s Natura 2000 conservation network but because of this the chemicals cannot be used in the village to get rid of them.
Residents, who rely on agriculture and fishing for income, may get compensation for the plague and local councillors are discussing whether they could be helped with a tax break.