Saturday, October 15, 2016

Another Garden Plague

Joining the list of local plant-pests, a list that includes mortal plagues on the chumbo cactus (cochineal bug), the palm tree (palm weevil), and lesser plagues on the olives (olive psylla), pine trees (processionary caterpillars), bougainvillea (ant-bourne infections), eucalyptus (gall wasp) and so on, we are now host to the 'agave snout weevil' (here).
This insect, similar in looks to the palm weevil (picudo rojo in Spanish) is about half the size of its more colourful cousin, and it attacks several different types of agave.
The normal green acacia, the one that abruptly produces the dramatic century flower that towers over the rest of the plant, and then dies, grows in abundance near to Retamar in Almería and this has upset our friends the ecologists. These city-dwelling absolutionists are against what they term as 'invasive plants' (the conquistadores brought them back in their luggage) and they have vowed, at least until the funding dries up, to exterminate the above-mentioned plantation. If they succeed, there will be nothing left but the Almerian pre-desert scrub which seems to soothe their souls.
Whether or not they introduced the picudo negro into the plantation will perhaps never be known. The insect comes from Mexico, and its large, fat, white grub is the thing that is at the bottom of every decent bottle of tequila or mescal. Powdered, with salt, you lick it off your finger with a shot of José Cuervo Gold.
Inevitably, the picudo negro has found other things it likes to eat, including ornamental agave, the type that features in many local gardens. It kills the plant as sure as the picudo rojo killed the palm trees.
They may be in the yukka as well...
Later: the bottom picture after I started removing the dying agave: inside were several palm weevils as well (picudo rojo)! You can see both types, rojo and negro, in this picture.

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