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

Another new swarm of locusts has been spotted in the Ramat HaNegev region in southern Israel, as small groups break off from an enormous “mother swarm” in the Giza region of Egypt.

Workers from the Agriculture Ministry were out in force bright and early Sunday morning, spraying pesticide in the Nachal Lavan area hoping to prevent further infestation of locusts in the Negev.

Officials said they are monitoring the situation and will continue to take action as necessary. 

Ministry sources expressed concern that warm weather and winds from the south on Monday could bring more of the winged Yemenite snack food to Israel from Egypt.

The locusts, of which four varieties are listed in the Torah as being kosher and edible for Jews, are not dangerous in small groups, the ministry sources said.

However, large swarms of the insects have caused – and can still cause – considerable damage to crops.

Shmulik Rifman, head of the Ramat HaNegev regional council, has appealed to Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi to help in fighting the swarms more effectively.

Rifman asked Morsi to allow Israeli crop-duster planes to spray pesticide over approaching locust swarms as they drift over the Sinai desert, rather than wait for them to reach the Negev region.

A massive infestation of more than 30 million of the insects swarmed over Giza, home to the ancient pyramids, completely stripping the fields and farms therein.

Warm weather and southern winds brought a swarm of some one million of the bugs across the border to Israel.

But as the locusts munched on local agriculture, some Jews started preparing to feast on them instead, ahead of the pesticide spraying by Agriculture Ministry officials. 

Numerous Yemenite Jews flew from their homes by night to the fields to gather the winged creatures, which lie dormant in the dark. They spoke to reporters with nostalgia about the tradition of roasting the locusts, describing how they became “crispy like chips,” as one man said with a smile. He suggested a side of barbecue sauce.