Covering the sky, millions of locust arrive in Merida

Invasions more frequent, intense in recent years

Swarms of locust head into Merida. Photo: Twitter

Merida, Yucatan — After swarms of locust arrived at the beaches of Progreso and Sisal, now they are in the skies over the capital city.

Residents shared images and videos of the arrival on a local weather-centered Twitter page, @climaYucatan.

The locust that descend on Yucatan are Arphia pseudonietana, known generally as the red-winged grasshopper or red-winged locust.

One of the main characteristics of these insects is their great ability to migrate from one place to another and, in certain circumstances, reproduce very quickly, forming devastating pests that can destroy crops.

Mainly a menace to farmers with crops and beekeepers producing honey, particularly in Yucatan, locust are known to arrive in large swarms every four years. Last year was thought to be the fourth year of that pattern.

Farmers can do very little to combat the pests and have lost thousands of acres of crops in previous attacks. However, brigades of people armed with pesticides ended a three-week swarm in 2006 when locusts devastated corn crops in Quintana Roo.

The flying insect has appeared increasing voracious in recent years. They were first found munching on everything from sand dune plants to palm trees in 2016.

Moreover, warmer temperatures and more intense weather events influenced by climate change are causing locust plagues to shift globally.

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They’re descending on new locations, and in some cases, coming more frequently and with greater intensity.

Deforestation has also increased locust population density, since the trees act as a barrier between the insect and human population centers.

Locusts do not attack people or animals. There is also no evidence that suggests that locusts carry diseases that could harm humans.

Locusts are also rich in protein. During periods of increased locust activity, piles of dead locusts can be found in the markets to be stir-fried, roasted or boiled and eaten immediately, or dried and eaten later.

In Mexico, it is traditional to roast locusts for 10 minutes before their wings, legs and heads are removed. The bodies are tossed with lime juice, two garlic cloves and salt. They are then sprinkled on avocados that were mashed and spread on tortillas. At least that’s according to the 1998 book, “Man Eating Bugs: The Art and Science of Eating Insects,” by Peter Menzel and Faith D’Aluisio.

Source: Diario de Yucatan, Riviera Maya News

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