18 March 2005

'Plague' is just not cricket!

Residents of countless Boland towns complained about a plague of Biblical proportions on Thursday after "millions" of crickets - the most in years - invaded streets and houses.

Thousands had to be killed throughout the night in Paarl after they took over a sports stadium.

In some parts of Strand, people apparently are not opening their windows any more and in Swellendam "you can hear them crackling under your wheels when you drive down the main street in the dark".

People from Worcester, Paarl, Stellenbosch, Somerset West, Strand, Caledon, Bonnievale, Riversonderend and Swellendam told on Thursday how they had been gathering literally bags of dead crickets since Thursday.

And, in Strand, schools now have a new problem, according to a resident: boys who catch crickets at home and take them to school to throw them down the girls' shirts.

Had to spray sports stadium
"You'll find the crickets especially in business premises and swimming pools," said Albert van der Merwe, Drakenstein municipality's head of parks, on Thursday.

"We killed thousands on Wednesday night in Lady Grey Street. And we had to spray the entire Dal Josafat Stadium so that the SA junior athletics event can take place there this weekend - it was full of crickets."

Van der Merwe says more than 10 large rubbish bins were filled with crickets that they gathered in the stadium.

Dr Mike Picker, an entomologist from the University of Cape Town, said on Thursday that the Mediterranean veld crickets (big black ones could be recognised by two yellow spots on their backs) didn't pose a health hazard, but they could be very noisy.

Poison was sprayed in Swellendam.
Ray Coetzee of the Talking Heads hair salon in Swellendam said the inner town was full of dead crickets. "The main street is pitch black with all the crickets at night."

According to Kobus Rossouw, who lives in Coast Way, Strand, the little wall that separates the beach from the town is filled with crickets at night.

"It sounds like a symphony orchestra. No one dares to leave a door or window open any more."

In Caledon, it looks like "black waves" crashing over Meul Street as the crickets swarm, said a resident.


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