Plagues of locusts are swarming large areas of southern Russia, threatening thousands of acres of crops and in some places darkening the skies.
A video shot by a local man in Achikulak, a village in the Stavropol region, shows thousands of the bugs swarming towards a church. Other videos, screened by local TV channels, showed clouds of locusts flying overhead.
“It was very frightening,” Lubov Timus, a local woman who lives in Achikulak, told ABC News. “Some were as big as your finger! They came like a clouds.”
The waves of locusts began around July 20, according to Stavropol’s regional agricultural ministry. Vasilii Yegorov, a deputy agricultural minister, told ABC News that locusts appear in the region every year but normally they are able to exterminate them before they hatch.
This year though, Yegorov said, locusts had migrated from neighboring Russian regions, meaning authorities were unable to halt them easily, threatening what is one of Russia’s major farming areas.
Swarms have been reported across many other southern regions, stretching from Chechnya to the Astrakhan province on the Caspian Sea. Because of the locusts, a state of emergency has been declared in three regions near Stavropol, according to local media. In Stavropol alone, efforts to kill the insects have stretched across more than 350 miles, according to officials.
Yegorov said Stavropol authorities currently had the infestation under control and were spraying pesticide every day.