Gathering kosher locusts for Negev lunch
Gathering kosher locusts for Negev lunchIsrael news photo: Flash 90

A swarm of one million locusts that was headed north from the southern border of Israel has been stopped dead in its tracks by the Ministry of Agriculture -- but first, some of Israel's residents have made sure to gather sackfuls of what they know can be a tasty kosher treat.

The swarm, a small group that broke off from a massive plague that struck neighboring Egyptcrossed the border into the country from Sinai, reaching the Ramat HaNegev region two days ago.

Israel’s Agriculture Ministry immediately began spraying pesticide both from the air and at the ground level, starting at dawn on Wednesday. The ministry hoped to prevent further losses to farmers by the locusts. Israel has already sustained hundreds of thousands of shekels damage to potato farms in its southern regions.

Prior to the spraying, however, some Yemenite Israelis made sure to gather sackfuls of the locusts, four varieties of which actually are listed in the Torah as kosher. 

When toasted, said one of the people who rushed out to gather the rare treat, they taste like the "finest fast food snack."  Some Yemenite Jews in Israel can date their ancestry back to the Second Temple era, when the locust as a food source was more widely known.

In Egypt, farms and fields were completely devastated in the Giza region by a swarm of some 30 million locusts over the weekend.

Israel’s wave of spraying, which began at 06:00 a.m. in the Negev, worked well, according to a ministry spokesperson.

“Following the spraying, which was done via aircraft, there seems to be no more ground elevation of locusts,” the spokesperson said. “They sprayed 7,500 acres east of Moshav Kamhin. During the day the pesticides will remove the locusts from the soil. The Ministry of Agriculture is continuing to monitor the results.”

Rabbi Eliezer Simcha Weiss, rabbi of Emek Hefer, meanwhile, has sent a letter to farmers calling on them to pray that no more locusts reach the country.