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regular-article-logo Monday, 15 April 2024

City of mites

France is in knots over an infestation of bedbugs. There is a widespread panic that bedbugs will jeopardise the 2024 Olympic Games that Paris is set to host. New Delhi will commiserate

Upala Sen Published 08.10.23, 05:51 AM
Representational image

Representational image File picture

It is easy to say ‘don’t let the bedbugs bite’; the reality, as France is discovering, is hopeless and humbling. Imagine developing sophisticated defence essentials, only to be disarmed by a little creepy crawly!

France is in knots over an infestation of bedbugs. According to reports, some schools have closed down, passengers taking the Paris Metro are reluctant to sit, there have been angry scenes in Parliament and so on and so forth. There is widespread panic that bedbugs and their fraternite will jeopardise the 2024 Olympic Games that Paris is to host. New Delhi will commiserate. Just weeks ago, in the run-up to the G20 summit, the Indian Capital was plastered with langur cut-outs to control the monkey menace.

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Monkey business

In Sri Lanka, the macaque monkeys cause rampant crop damage. According to a recent report by the Hector Kobbekaduwa Agrarian Research and Training Institute, in 2022 these monkeys destroyed 200 million coconuts. Things got so bad that this year the Sri Lankan government was considering exporting some monkeys to China. Monkeys are used for research, hence their demand, but it is unlikely that countries will be as welcoming to the big brown bear. In Japan, over the past few years, a shortage of acorns and shrinking rural populations have been driving the bear into cities. Hokkaido is known for its bear attacks. And what have the humans come up with to counter it? A mechanical wolf, branded as Monster Wolf, which howls and growls and has fake fur et al.

Birds and beasts

Italy is experiencing an onslaught of the “blue crab”. They are eating up Italy's clams, crucial ingredients in many pasta dishes. They have already run through 90 per cent of clams and caused a damage of £85 million. Since they cannot be controlled, the government has come up with a different strategy. It has been encouraging the fishing community to catch them and the people to eat them. A good move but one that cannot be replicated in Calcutta where cat-sized rats are gnawing away at the city’s foundations. Rome’s problem is prettier and stickier too. In the winter months, thousands of starlings, a bird species, gather there. By day they feed in the countryside, on the olive groves, and by evening they return to the city to relieve themselves, their oily droppings burying the Eternal City. The city authorities’ feeble attempt to counter this menace --- using falcons and sound waves to scatter them.

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