Greece battles locust plague on Agios Efstratios island

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Media captionPesticide spraying has not solved the problem on Agios Efstratios

Villagers on a tiny Greek Aegean island, Agios Efstratios, are battling a plague of locusts and a state of emergency has been declared there.

The island has about 200 residents who rely on agriculture and fishing. Locust infestation is a recurring problem.

A member of the local administration, Stella Spanou, told the BBC that sheep were starving as so much vegetation was being devoured by the locust swarms.

Students from Athens have sprayed the pesticides diflubenzuron and spinosad.

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Stella Spanou

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Locusts swarming across the land on Agios Efstratios

“It’s difficult because of the landscape – they have to go on foot. The eco-friendly chemicals are working, they got good results,” Ms Spanou said.

“But there are still many locusts because they couldn’t spray everywhere.”

The students, from the Agricultural University of Athens, sprayed under the expert supervision of scientists.

They got a special government permit for the pesticides because those chemicals were not registered for use against locusts, team leader Antonios Tsagkarakis told the BBC.

The island, 30km (19 miles) south of Limnos, has one village, where vegetable gardens are being destroyed by the locusts. “The chemicals cannot be used in the village,” Ms Spanou said.

Agios Efstratios is part of the EU’s Natura 2000 conservation network – it has a special status because of its rare flora and fauna.

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