Authorities in Liberia are desperate to find a solution to the inch long creatures clogging water wells with their excrement, and devouring major crops of bananas, plantains, coffee, rice and cocoa beans. The creatures started multiplying a couple of weeks ago, and have swarmed one clinic, preventing people from accessing it, the Ministry of Agriculture said.Affecting 65 towns, "The pests were found to attack practically all crops of economic value. Their droppings pollute the waters, rendering them unwholesome for human use," according to a statement by the Ministry.
Liberian authorities have now set up a command post to deal with the invasion. In the meantime they are calling on international experts to help fight the caterpillars eating their way across Liberia.
Economic consequences for the developing country will be dire. UN is calling it the worst plague in West Africa in 30 years.
Biological control solutions are sought immediately.
But solutions, if chemical in nature, must be thought over carefully: Coffee farmer James Kolleh, 22, explained that some spraying had been done in the town "but we were terrified when the chickens that eat the dead pests all died. These caterpillars must be very poisonous."
(Image credit: ABC News)