A city in Argentina plunged into darkness because of an invasion of insects

The Argentine city of Santa Isabel was forced to turn off its lights for several days to persuade the millions of bugs invading its streets to leave the city and look for another place to live.

A town of about 2,500 people in the central Argentine province of La Pampa has been plagued by swarms of bugs for more than a week. “They are everywhere – in houses, in stores,” deputy mayor Christian Echegaray complained to the media. Local law enforcement has blamed the bugs for damage to the police station, residences and cars, as well as clogging gas station drains and other nuisances. Residents have documented the infestation in videos posted to social media, showing thousands of bugs on rooftops and huddling in dark burrows. Some fill huge boxes with the insects, take them out of town in cars and throw them away to keep the insects out of the way.

Authorities attribute the infestation to unusually heavy rains for this time of year, as well as a heat wave that recently hit Argentina when temperatures rose to nearly 40C (104F). These conditions were ideal for breeding beetles, whose larvae develop underground. Millions of adult beetles arrived in Santa Isabel, attracted by street lights.

The insects don’t bite or sting, but they are protected by a tough shell and tend to hit objects as they fly, so locals were advised to cover their faces when they are outside to avoid injury.Santa Isabel eventually decided to turn off streetlights and lights in public buildings so the bugs would “go away and find another town,” Echegaray said.

Echegaray told the AP agency Saturday.The city has been dark for the past three days, and the move has been effective. The number of bugs has dropped significantly during the blackout, he said.

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