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Small plagues of locust arriving in Cancun

Cancun, Q.R. — Small plagues of locust that have been spotted around Cancun have some worried as the pesky insects strip palms and small trees of their leaves.

Héctor Aguirre, a gardener in south Cancun, says that the large species of grasshoppers began arriving about a month ago and have taken to eating palms and even stripping small trees of their leaves. He says they have begun fumigating to control the locust and prevent them from eating other plants and trees, noting that their preference are palms.

He says the migratory locust don’t normally arrive for another month, but are here early, recalling several years ago when a mass of the grasshopper species devastated Cancun vegetation and devoured crops and plants native to the region, visually affecting the environment.

“They do not do anything but affect the plants… although it’s normally another month before they arrive,” Aguirre explained adding “it is not an issue that affects all plants. Right now, it’s mostly the palm trees outside. They were very nice, but they can also affect crop areas.”

Locust, which are a species of short-horned grasshoppers, can become abundant and enter into a swarming phase wiping out crops and devastating plants and trees. They have been reported in Playa del Carmen this year as well.

In 2013, more than 50 hectares of crops were devastated by a cloud of locusts in Chetumal and Lázaro Cárdenas which resulted in a decrease in banana, corn, coconut and peanut plantations. In 2016, an infestation of locusts arrived, affecting crop areas in Playa del Carmen.

Last year, the state government fumigated 2,900 hectares of area crops to avoid affectations to species such as coconut palms.