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Plague of locusts descends on NorCal town of Herald

June 13, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
A plague of locusts has inundated the small town of Herald in California. There are less than a thousand residents in Herald, located in Sacramento County. The residents are outnumbered by literally millions of the insects.

Walk anywhere on Debbie Campbell's farm, and you can easily kick up dozens of what are believed to be locusts.

They swarmed in on the Sacramento County town of Herald two weeks ago and don't seem to want to leave.

Just how many? She would say in biblical proportions.

"It said on the Internet when I first started looking that between 50 and 65 per square yard is a severe outbreak. If you stand in my backyard, I've got about maybe 5,000 per square yard," said Campbell.

And they are hungry. They've been munching on peaches, and there's nothing left of the hot peppers. They're even trying to eat signs in the fields. They're also working on the rose bushes, which were in full bloom until the unwanted visitors came and stayed.

Campbell's grandson often runs the yard with a net and catches quite a few in one swoop. Her dog Cocoa can't decide which one to chase because there are so many.

A UC Davis scientist told her perhaps this dry, warm winter means less vegetation for the bugs to eat. Combine that with a very wet season the winter before when more bugs were born, and all that seems to have created a perfect storm.

For now, Campbell catches as many as she can and drowns them in a pool of soapy poison.

"It's not funny anymore. It's not entertaining anymore. It's not pleasurable. It's eating everything that I own, and I'm not happy," said Campbell.

Campbell has applied for a permit with the state to give her permission to use a pesticide used to combat locust infestations in Africa. If she does succeed, she won't be able to get her farm organically certified this year.


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