China may send 100,000 ducks to swallow locust plague

A single duck can eat more than 200 locusts each day, a researcher tells Bloomberg. However, a China Agricultural University professor reportedly expresses doubts about this solution.

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Ducks. So many ducks.

These guys will dine well on the locust hordes, it seems.

Hoang Dinh Nam/AFP via Getty Images

Pakistan's locust population might try to call fowl play. An army of 100,000 Chinese ducks could be tasked with battling the insects plaguing Pakistan's crops, Bloomberg reported Wednesday. 

The birds are "biological weapons" with a serious appetite for locusts -- a single duck can eat more than 200 a day, Zhejiang Academy of Agricultural Sciences researcher Lu Lizhi told the news agency. They could be deployed to Pakistan in the latter half of the year, following a trial in China's western region of Xinjiang.

The locust infestation is apparently the worst Pakistan has seen in 20 years, and threatens the country's wheat harvest after ruining its cotton crop last year, according to the Guardian, which cited the Ningbo Evening News. Lu also said ducks are cheaper, more effective and cause less environmental harm than pesticides.

Later Thursday however, China Agricultural University Professor Zhang Long told Pakistani media that the country's desert climates wouldn't suit the water-reliant ducks, the Guardian noted. Zhang was apparently part of a group of Chinese experts who advised Pakistan to use a chemical solution to the locust problem.

Back in 2000, China sent 30,000 ducks from Zhejiang province to Xinjiang to tackle an infestation of locusts, the BBC noted. Ducks are better locust hunters than chickens because they flock together rather than splitting up, and chickens will only eat around 70 locusts a day.

Originally published Feb. 27, 4:19 a.m. PT.
Updates, 4:38 a.m.: Adds more detail; 10:20 a.m.: Notes professor Zhang Long's doubts.

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