Swarm of quakes ranging from magnitude 3.7 to 4.0
Pests arrive with biblically resonant timing
(TIMES OF ISRAEL) — A day before Passover, farmers in southern Israel were suffering from another plague of locusts, entering the country from Egypt with biblical timing.
The pests hit fields and greenhouses in the south; the Agriculture Ministry was working to prevent heavy damage to crops in the Negev and stop the insects from penetrating deeper into the country.
Unlike previous swarms that have entered Israel in the past month, the locusts that hit Israel Sunday are yellow and fertile and, in this stage of their metamorphosis, pose less risk to crops because they eat significantly less. Once the insects lay eggs and they hatch, however, Israeli farmers will face the threat of this wave’s insatiable brood, who will eat anything green in their path.
The rainy season could bring a bumper crop of gallinippers – coin-sized, aggressive pests that cause more than a little pain.
A gallinipper and a normal-sized mosquito (Marisol Amador/UF IFAS)
By Sky News US Team
Florida is bracing for a summer invasion of giant mosquitoes whose bite has been compared with “being knifed”.
University of Florida scientists say the half-inch insects, called gallinippers, are likely to swarm the Sunshine State after recent tropical storms made it the species’ perfect breeding ground.
“I wouldn’t be surprised, given the numbers we saw last year,” said entomologist Phil Kaufman, a professor at the university’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
At the size of a US 25-cent piece, the notoriously aggressive gallinippers are 20 times the size of a common mosquito.
And with their bigger size also comes a bigger bite.
“The bite really hurts, I can attest to that,” Professor Kaufman said.
Gallinippers – whose scientific name is Psorophora ciliate – are not considered an invasive species as they are native to the eastern half of North America.
They have attained almost mythical status in the Deep South, featuring in folk tales and even blues songs that mention their “fearsome bite”.
And they are a particularly hearty bug.
Adult females lay their eggs at the edges of streams and ponds, and the eggs can lay dormant for years until the water rises with heavy rains and causes them to hatch.
Last year saw a sharp increase in their numbers after Tropical Storm Debby brought torrential rains to the state, scientists say.
“When we hit the rainy cycle we may see that again,” Mr Kaufman said.
On the up side, the insects are not major transmitters of diseases such as malaria, as common mosquitoes are.
Not even the Secret Service could keep the fly away from Barack Obama’s furrowed brow.
The buzzing insect stole the show as the President announced two new members of his second administration, cutting wild loops around the leader of the free world before landing squarely on his forehead.
The official White House transcript simply reads: “This guy is bothering me here – (swatting at a fly.)”
Meanwhile, the pool report which describes the President’s movements throughout the day noted that “the president spoke for about five minutes while being menaced by a house fly”.
It wasn’t the first time Mr Obama has shared camera time with a fly. In June 2009, the newly-elected president dealt some tough justice to one which interrupted an interview.
And during a 2010 announcement on healthcare reform, Mr Obama cut off an emotional story about an American struggling without health insurance as a fly zipped around him.
In that instance, the fly did manage to land briefly on his face, providing an unsightly addition to the mole on the left side of his nose.
His skill has improved dramatically since his time as a candidate, when he halted a local news interview because of a swarm gathering around him.