Much ado about mothing
Photo report from Irkutsk, a city imprisoned by moths, cobwebs and caterpillars 06/29/2013, 15:34
In a matter of days, an infestation of apple ermine moths has become the major issue in Irkutsk. The city administration, scientists and environmentalists have been trying to decide how to save hundreds of thousands of trees and bushes from the parasites, who were brought in with fruit and vegetables from neighbouring countries, for two weeks. Experts warn that active reproduction of the pests will continue for another year or two. Sib.fm’s correspondents got to see the historic centre of Siberia covered in cobwebs and caterpillars.
It’s not the first time that apple trees in Irkutsk have been hit by ermine moths, but this summer the environmental impact has surpassed all expectations. Ornamental trees in the city’s streets and courtyards are shrouded in cobwebs and caterpillars — huge green areas face the chop. Treatment of the diseased vegetation with biologically active solutions is complicated by sanitary norms: chemicals may not be used within 50 metres of residential areas.
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Irkutsk authorities have reassuringly reminded city residents that something similar happened in the 1990s and 2000s in England, Sweden and Japan, as well as in various Russian, Kazakhstani and Ukrainian cities. Local media report that mayor Viktor Kondrashov has the situation under control and is corresponding with anxious citizens through social networking websites.