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.

Saturday, October 01, 2016

The British are Nuestros Amigos

Around a quarter of all town halls in Almería sent a clear message this Friday: 'We want our Britons to stay'. These town halls, collected together in a union, have little or no tourism: and much of their recent wealth stems from foreign, mainly British, settlers.
The Spanish authorities in general spend heavily on tourism, with a ministry and a large budget. They however allow nothing for 'residential tourism', as the phenomenon of foreign property owners is described. Small obscure interior towns often have no normal tourism, and are therefore much more understanding and indeed welcoming of foreign settlers than their coastal colleagues
The Mancomunidad del Almanzora is a union of 21 towns in Northern Almería. On Friday in a full plenary session, they agreed to give every support to the British residents to protect them, as they can, from the potential ravages of Brexit.

From the left: The president of the Mancomunidad, the mayor of Zurgena and councillor Jim Simpson. Three local mayors are on the right of the photo.

The institutional photograph after the plenary session. Andrew Mortimer is on the far right next to Jim Simpson. I'm in the back somewhere...

Specific points raised included health services, the right to work and to vote.
The meeting was held in the Town Hall of Zurgena and the subject was presented by local councillor Jim Simpson. Experts called to argue the case were Lenox Napier and Andrew Mortimer.
The President of the Mancomunidad, Antonio García, speaking for his fellow mayors, said he would take on the subject as his own.
There are an estimated 12,000 Britons living within the area covered by the union.
The Mancomunidad is now set to send out a notice to other town halls and councils suggesting they should join in the statement.

Jim, Andy and myself work for a group that seeks to give rights and protection to all ex-pats living in Europe - find out more at Europats here