September 28, 2006It hasn't yet reached biblical
proportions, but the plague of locusts currently infesting the
Mexican resort town of Cancún has some residents looking to the
heavens for help.
Clouds of hungry hoppers have been swarming the area for three weeks, devouring 2,500 acres (1,000 hectares) of outlying farmland and making a simple walk in the country slow going for four-year-old Diana Rubi Pech Dzu (pictured).
Nearly a year ago, Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula was ravaged by Hurricane Wilma, a Category Three storm that wrought hundreds of millions of U.S. dollars in damage to the resort-rich state of Quintana Roo (see Mexico map).
This year it's the lack of hurricanes that's part of the problem, as hot weather has sparked a heavy breeding season for locusts but none of the windy storms that help keep the bugs at bay.
Now local officials are taking on a war footing to tackle the threat, dispatching squads armed with motorized pesticide pumps to conduct nightly raids on the insects as they rest in the fields.
"It is a war, effectively," German Parra, a local agriculture official, told the Reuters news agency.
And with no tropical storms in sight, there's little hope that his forces will get any backup from above.
"We hope that God will take pity on us and help us," Parra said.
Blake de Pastino
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