Locust Hordes Overcome Trinidad

For the past two weeks, Princes Town residents have been living like a horror movie. Moruga locusts (Coscineuta virens) swarm in their millions, devouring fruit trees and plants – threatening to destroy acres of crops on surrounding farms.

Cars driving through the neighborhood are often covered in insects, and people walking through town are constantly being swept away by insects flying by the thousands. They make their way into homes, cars and businesses, and are resistant to insect repellents.

When the sky darkened over parts of Manahambre, Lothians and St. Croix last Wednesday morning, residents thought it was a change in the weather, a sign of impending rain or a storm.

But when a dark cloud descended, they saw millions of locusts and these clouds landed on their fruit trees, crops and plants, devouring everything in their path.

“I’ve lived here for about 40 years and this is the first time I’ve seen something like this. The sky darkened and there was an eerie humming sound. Then they came down on everything, all of our trees in the back, the avocados, the chateens, and they were swarming. If you go outside now, they’ll even cover you,” said a resident of Marcano Street in Princes Town, Trinidad.

According to local residents, nearby vegetation was completely destroyed by these insects within 24 hours of their appearance. Some resorted to staying home to avoid the abundance of locusts.

“My husband and I were driving to Rio Claro to pick up some things. As we drove down the road, we had to stop and board up the windows because they were there by the thousands, bombarding the cars and getting in everywhere. It’s like a repeat of the Egyptian executions,” said another resident.

Locust invasions are known in the region around Moruga, but this year the swarms reached biblical proportions. What’s more, they have invaded parts of Rio Claro, Bordeaux Narvae, Central Princes Town and St. Julien, where such infestations have never occurred before.

Some fear this invasion will have devastating effects on the island’s farming community.

Earlier this year, the Department of Agriculture conducted several drills in the Moruga area in an attempt to combat the emergence of new flocks. Spraying is now underway. But it’s too late.

Swarming locusts are adults that go off to nest. Along the way, they eat everything in their path. Spraying will not kill the adults. After nesting, the adults die.

The newly born locusts will emerge in December-January, and that is when the Ministry will spray to stop the spread of the new plague… Once the locusts have wings, spraying will become difficult.

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