On the night of Sunday, August 21, 2011, as the population prepared for the week ahead, the calm of their routine was disrupted by the troubling news that a state of emergency had been declared....
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Locusts now invading homes
Red-winged locusts, which are synonymous with a biblical plague, continue to breed and multiply in the Point Fortin district even as residents await the Insect Vector Control Division of the Agriculture Ministry to do more to kill the hungry pests.
When the T&T Guardian visited the area yesterday, locusts were seen on the walls of residents’ homes, inside cars, on electrical lines and chomping on leaves of fruit trees.
They had already shredded coconut and banana trees as well as ornamental plants. Several residents were also seen cleaning their backyards. The drains were clogged with dead insects. Ancil Wiltshire, who was cutting grass along Julien Street, said he had to run for cover when the insects began swarming inside his van.
Shaking a fig tree laden with the insects, Wiltshire said: “I don’t know where they coming from but I think they should be spraying here every day before this gets out of hand.”
Jennifer Preddie, who was spotted planassing (striking with the flat side of a cutlass) the locusts on her property said it appeared the insects were migrating further inland.
“They have to spray here more than once. These locusts flying in people’s faces. I’m not taking chances. I waiting here to planass them,” Preddie said.
Kenn Rodd, of Lewis Street, was also seen swatting the locusts with a cocoyea broom.
“I fed up kill them. They coming into the house. I collect scoops of them because they all over,” Rodd said. Asked how many he had killed, Rodd said they were too numerous to mention.
“We have thousands of locusts still in the village. They supposed to come here and spray since Monday but they never came,” Rodd said. Pointing to smaller locusts on an electrical line nearby, Rodd said, “It seems these insects are breeding quickly. They are multiplying fast and getting bigger quickly.”
Rodd said a team from the Ministry of Agriculture spoke with residents.
“They told me the locusts lay between 400-500 eggs on soft ground,” Rodd said.
Pointing to an open field near the Servol Centre, Rodd said it appeared the locusts were breeding in that location because of the number of small locusts spotted in that area.
“I have been living here for over 20 years and it is the first time that I ever saw anything like this,” Rodd said.
Contacted yesterday, Agriculture Minister Clarence Rambharat said spraying will continue over the next few weeks until all the locusts are eradicated.
“The issue will not end with one spraying. At this time the ministry will continue until there are no signs of the locust infestation,” Rambharat said.
Head of Corporate Communications at the Ministry of Agriculture Yolande Simmons also said Salazar Trace and New Village Settlement will be given priority spraying. Simmons said surveillance was done yesterday from Icacos to Rousillac but because of the bad weather, spraying teams were not able to cover as much ground as they had hoped. She said that spraying will be done at New Village and Cap-de-Ville today while Salazar Trace will be sprayed on Thursday.
Farmers affected by locust infestation can contact the St Patrick West County Office in Point Fortin at 648-1426 or 648-2384 for further information and assistance.
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