The plague of the prickly pear has not gone away, indeed, it has got worse. Whole swathes of inland Almería are covered with dead and dying chumbos, with clouds of the male insects, a tiny white fly which turns into a red mess when you smear them, flying around the evening lamps. So many, that they will fill your eyes and mouth. The females, meanwhile, have their heads inserted into the plants, while the miniscule young hang in those white filaments which adorn the stricken plants, ready to be taken away by a gust of wind. The hills look as bad as this sounds - drooping, dying, drying.
The ecologists, of course, do nothing, Their concern is the ghastly Hotel Algarrobico and bothering the houses owned by the foreigners up in the moribund pueblos of the interior.
Now, however, the Cochineal Bug Dactylopius opuntiae is moving onto other plants, with damage found, apparently, on figs and vines.
The reason why the ecologistas don't want to move on the chumbo problem is because, they say, the chumbo is a planta invasora: it's not natural to Spain, therefore it shouldn't be protected. Brilliant! Well done those city-bred nitwits. The patata and the tomate are both invasoras as well!
Since spraying the prickly pear doesn't work - who is going to spray the wild ones? - the answer must lie in finding something that eats these bugs: a natural enemy. Somebody needs to go to Mexico.