The Fight against Locust Infestations in Ottoman Cyprus in the Nineteenth Century

Tok A.

EURHO Rural History Conference, Girona, Spain, 7 - 10 September 2015

  • Publication Type: Conference Paper / Unpublished
  • City: Girona
  • Country: Spain
  • Yıldız Technical University Affiliated: Yes


Twice in the nineteenth century Ottoman Cyprus was hit by major locust infestations, in the 1840s and around 1860. Swarms of locusts damaged agricultural lands by devouring everything green. Islanders faced difficulties in finding provisions and many people fled. Tax revenues declined sharply. The local government appointed officers, supported by the local notables in order to mobilize islanders against these pests. Participating in the combat, either by paying money or through work was compulsory.
The struggle was conducted before locusts developed wings. Firstly, peasants collected and destroyed hundred tons of locust eggs on the ground. Secondly, when the hatched locusts appeared as swarms before becoming able to fly, they were gathered in pits or between circular brushwood piles where they were buried or burned. Chickens were also employed as a natural enemy of these pests. The paper will discuss how people organized during the crisis and which practical measures were used.