Thursday, April 14, 2011

A page from the Apocalypse: plagues of flies, worms, bees

April 13, 2011 – INDONESIA - Parts of Indonesia are under siege by swarms of hairy caterpillars, which are getting into homes and causing skin rashes, according to local news reports. “The caterpillars are very disturbing. They crawl into the house and make our skin itch for days. They have long hairs,” a Jakarta resident identified as Nurhayati told the Jakarta Globe. A caterpillar swarm was first reported in East Java two weeks ago, according to the Globe, and new swarms have been observed in Bekasi, West Java, and Buleleng, Bali. The caterpillars are targeting the leaves of mango trees in Bali, according to a Bali Times report. Bali agricultural chief Made Putra Suryawan said Wednesday that authorities there are spraying insecticide and burning garbage to stop the spread of the insects, according to an Agence France Presse report on Suryawan said the species of caterpillars had not yet been identified. Their elevated numbers could be caused by a lack of predators, he said in the AFP report. “There’s a reduction in the number of birds and ants that feed on these caterpillars. People catch the birds to sell them and catch the ants to feed their pet birds,” Suryawan is quoted as saying. –CNN

United Kingdom- Hatfield- Mrs Minn called in an expert beekeeper, who said he had no idea why the bees, which have an essential role to play in pollinating crops and plants, had been attracted to her car in particular. –WH Times India - Berhampur (Orissa) (PTI) A man died and four others suffered wounds after they were stung by a swarm of wild bees at Aska, about 40 km from here today, police said. Kala Krushan Swain (35) was attacked by the bees while he was going to a local temple. He died on his way to hospital. Four passers-by were also stung and they were hospitalized. This was the third incident in two months in Ganjam and Kandhamal districts where three persons died in wild bee attack. -IBN

New Zealand – A thick swarm of small, hairy, fatty critters are invading homes all over South Canterbury in plague proportions. Cluster fly season has returned with a vengeance, leaving weary homeowners vacuuming daily and battling with sprays to keep the thousands of mites from taking over their home. David Curry, of Timaru-based company The Exterminator, said the phone had been running red hot. He described it as plague proportions. Cluster flies, named because of their ability to communicate with each other using a scent to summon themselves into clusters, were plaguing the whole district, mostly in rural areas, he said. “I’ve been to Geraldine and I’m down in Waimate doing some now,” he said yesterday. The first signs of cluster flies began a month ago. “Because they come en masse, it’s hard to control them all.” They’re just everywhere. It’s just unbelievable where they’re getting in.” When they would disappear depended on the weather, he said. The recent warm autumn days, where the flies fill buildings looking for a place to hibernate, meant the problem could last for some time. “It’ll be until we get the real cold snap,” Mr Curry said. “If we get real bad weather, that could be it because they’ll be killed off or they hibernate.” –Stuff NZ

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