URUMQI, July 24 (Xinhua) -- Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region has mobilized an army of birds and chickens to combat a destructive plague of locusts along the China-Kazakhstan border.
Owing to continued drought and scorching heat in recent months, locusts have infested more than 392,000 hectares of pasture in Tacheng Prefecture along the border, according to the local bureau of animal husbandry.
Since mid-june, the bureau has set up brick nests in mountainous areas and grasslands to attract more than 50,000 migrating rosy starlings, a bird that preys locusts and grasshoppers.
The number of locusts per square meter has dropped from 40 to two in areas the birds have visited. The starlings have so far won the battle in the area of 17,000 hectares where locusts were most rampant, the bureau said.
Meanwhile, 85,000 special chickens, unique to the plateau, have been sent out to battle the locusts. The chickens, raised by local herdsmen, have stopped the spread of locusts in a further 30,000 hectares of land in Tacheng.
China once largely sprayed insecticides to eradicate locusts, effectively killing the insects in an instant. However, as the country has realized the importance of environmental protection, it has encouraged the use of biological measures, such as birds.
Xinjiang has more than 100 kinds of locusts, which are a major menace to the health of the grassland. It has a history of using chickens, ducks and other birds to fight the insects.