China could face a desert locust invasion, a government body warned on Monday, urging local authorities to prepare for the possible arrival of the voracious insects from neighboring Pakistan and India.
The risk of swarms entering the country is low, although China will be hampered in tracking the locusts by a lack of monitoring techniques and little knowledge of migration patterns, China's National Forestry and Grassland Administrations said in a statement on its website.
Locust swarms could enter the Tibet region from Pakistan and India, or the southwestern province of Yunnan through Myanmar, depending on climate conditions, the notice said. Swarms could also fly across Kazakhstan and into China's western Xinjiang region.
The desert locusts have already ravaged crops and pastures in several countries in east Africa and swarms have spread into India and Pakistan.
Locust swarms can fly up to 150 km (90 miles) a day with the wind, and adult insects can consume roughly their own weight in fresh food per day.
Beijing has set up a task force that will meet this month to monitor and act on any locust invasion, the government body said.
Local forestry and grassland administrations "must be fully aware of the extreme importance of prevention and control work against locusts," it said.
They should store pesticides and equipment and have personnel ready to take immediate and effective measures once locusts are detected, it added.