The most serious outbreak of lobsters in 25 years is spreading across East Africa with a unique swarm that covers an area one and a half times larger than Greater London.
Unusual weather conditions are partly responsible for the plague, which represents an unprecedented threat to food security in some of the world’s most vulnerable countries.
Insects are devouring crops, with Kenya One of the worst countries affected.
A swarm measures 60 km (37 miles) by 40 km (25 miles) in the northeast of the country.
A spokesman for the country’s Intergovernmental Development Authority (IGAD) said: “A typical swarm of desert lobsters can contain up to 150 million lobsters per square kilometer.”
“Swarms migrate with the wind and can cover 100 to 150 kilometers in one day.
“An average swarm can destroy as many food crops in a day as is enough to feed 2,500 people.”
The desert locust outbreak, considered the most dangerous lobster species, has also affected parts of Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan, Djibouti and Eritrea, and IGAD warns that parts of South Sudan and Uganda could be the following.
The outbreak is worsening the food crisis in the region, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) warned.
Hundreds of thousands of acres of crops have been destroyed.
The further increase in locust swarms could last until June as favorable breeding conditions continue, said IGAD, aided by unusually strong floods in parts of the region in recent weeks.
Major outbreaks can be devastating. The main one, between 2003 and 2005, cost more than $ 500 million (£ 384 million) to control in 20 countries in North Africa, FAO said, with more than $ 2.5 billion (£ 1.9 billion) in crop losses .
To help prevent and control outbreaks, authorities analyze satellite images, store pesticides and perform aerial spraying.
In Ethiopia, officials said they deployed four small planes to help fight the invasion.