Passover rerun? Plague of black beetles hits Israel

The Environmental Protection Ministry has made it clear that the beetles are not harmful to humans and crops, and they do not spread disease.

April 29, 2019 17:32
2 minute read.
Passover rerun? Plague of black beetles hits Israel

This black beetle recently 'invaded' Israel . (photo credit: DR. URI SHALOM MINISTRY OF ENVIORNMENTAL PROTECTION)


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In a twist of fate, a large plague of black beetles has taken Israel by storm, just days after the end of the Passover holiday.

Akin to the biblical plague of locusts that, according to the Passover story, was one of the Ten Plagues sent upon the Egyptians for refusing to let the Jewish people leave Egypt, the black beetles have been spotted covering large areas across the country including parts of Tel Aviv, the Center and the South.

Although they have thrown citizens into a frenzy, the Environmental Protection Ministry has made it clear that these creatures are not harmful to humans or crops, and they do not spread disease.

According to the ministry, the species known as Calosoma Olivieri is actually beneficial to agriculture because it effectively devours harmful insects in agricultural areas that pose a danger to crops, as well as pests that could pose health risks and other types of insects.

The ministry said on Monday that the black beetles measure up to 2.5 centimeters in length and do not transmit diseases to humans, so using pesticides on them is unnecessary. It explained that the beetles fly into fields, feed on insects and pests, and then fly into urban areas to find a place to hide, but they die hours later.

According to the ministry, the influx may be caused by disturbances to their natural habitat.

The beetles do not have a long life expectancy; the ministry emphasized that the beetle outbreak is expected to cease within the next few days.

The ministry made it clear that only in extreme cases will it be permissible to exterminate the beetles using pest control measures.

"When the beetle appears in an exceptional and widespread manner in the area of ​​a settlement and where it actually causes a nuisance, it is possible to carry out focused pest control in a limited area in order to prevent damage to the public and property," the ministry said. "However, any exterminator who acts in contravention of these instructions will be considered negligent... and measures prescribed by law will be taken against them."

Syria has also reportedly been affected by the black beetle influx. Dr. Ali Sa’adat told Syrian news agency SANA that "the black beetles have a very short life span that ranges from 22 to 26 days, and they are attracted to the light at night," noting that their large spread over the past two days in several areas of Damascus and its countryside came as a result of heavy rains and the expansion of vegetation.

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