Millions of locusts swarm Trinidad, infesting homes, plaguing residents and devastating crops

The people of Princes Town have been living in a horror movie for the past two weeks.

The Moruga locusts (Coscineuta virens) have swarmed by the millions, munching through fruit trees and ornamental plants, and threatening to destroy acres of crops in surrounding farmlands.

Cars driving through the area are often covered by the insects, and people walking about the town are constantly swatting away the bugs flying about by the thousands.

They are getting into homes, cars and businesses, and are resistant to insect repellents.

The sky got dark

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

But as the dark cloud descended, thousands of locusts landed on their fruit trees, crops and plants devouring everything in sight.

I lived here for about 40 years or so and this is the first time I have seen anything like this. The sky got dark, and it sounded like rain and thunder to us how loud it was.

“Then they came down on everything, all our trees in the back, the avocados, the chataigne and they swarmed. If you go outside right now, they will even cover you,” said a resident of Marcano Street in Princes Town, Trinidad.

Like re-enacting the Egyptian plagues

According to locals, nearby vegetation had been completely cleared by these insects within 24 hours of their arrival. Some have resorted to staying inside to avoid the abundance of locusts. Even passing vehicles, they say, are swarmed when passing through the area.

My husband and I were going to Rio Claro to pick up some things. When driving on the roads we had to stop and roll up the windows because they were there in the thousands, bombarding cars and some dead on the street.

“It is like re-enacting the Egyptian plagues,” said another resident.

Unprecedented spread

Locust invasions are known in the region around Moruga, but this year, the swarms have biblical proportions. Moreover, they invaded some areas Rio Claro, Borde Narve, Central Princes Town and St Julien, where such plagues have never occurred before.

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

Earlier this year, the Ministry of Agriculture conducted several exercises within the Moruga area in an attempt to combat the emergence of new swarms. Spraying is now taking place. But I think it is too late already!

The swarming locusts are adults and are heading off to the forest for nesting. Along their way they eat everything on their path. Spraying will not kill adult insects. After the nesting the adults die. The newborn locusts will come out in December-January, and this is when the Ministry will spray to stop the spread of a new plague… Once locusts get wings, spraying becomes difficult! [Trinidad ExpressGuardian]