RADHICA DE SILVA
The Moruga grasshoppers which wreaked havoc in South Trinidad last year, gnawing away thousands of dollars in crops, have started to hatch.
Once again, Locust Eradication Teams have begun feverishly tracking the hoppers as farmers begin to report sightings of the wingless nymphs.
In an exclusive interview with Guardian Media, Agricultural officer at the Ministry of Agriculture, Sati Gangapersad, said spray activities are ongoing in Moruga at La Savanne, Edward Trace and La Ruffin.
“We are spraying forested edges and agricultural areas. Other places being sprayed are Vistabella and Piparo. We have locust activities in Glod Road, Robert Village, Local Road and Gaffoor Trace, Tableland,” Gangapersad said.
She added, “These areas have been visited and recommendations have been made to the farmers on crop protection.”
She reiterated that spraying cannot be used on residences due to harmful side effects on vulnerable people including the elderly, children and pets.
“We would like to recommend soft approaches like green label insecticides immediately outside the home and normal household sprays inside homes. One can also use soap and water outside the home,” she added.
Meanwhile, farmer Andy Lookhoor, who contacted Guardian Media on Saturday, said the grasshoppers already have begun eating down his fields of canaille (bitter melon), which grow at Robert Village, Tableland.
“It’s hard for me because it’s plenty of money I invest into this crop. To see it being eaten away is really distressing,” Lookhoor said.
He added that he has been spraying his fields and the grasshoppers have been crawling up the sides of trees, eating down everything in their path.
Usually, the grasshoppers, commonly and inaccurately called locusts, have been entering residential areas.
Last year the Ministry said the migratory patterns had changed and insects had now entered non-traditional areas.
“Grasshoppers are harmless and do not carry diseases. They are affected by loud noises, and it is highly unlikely that they will lay and nest in a residential community,” the Ministry said.