Border hoppers

Grasshoppers swarm into Israel from Syria

Unusually large numbers decimate vegetables in Moshav Alonei Habashan on Golan Heights, lay hundreds of thousands of eggs in soil

Sue Surkes is The Times of Israel's environment reporter

Swarms of grasshoppers in Moshav Alonei Habashan in the Golan Heights, northern Israel, June 4, 2019. (Kan screenshot)
Swarms of grasshoppers in Moshav Alonei Habashan in the Golan Heights, northern Israel, June 4, 2019. (Kan screenshot)

Just days after two rockets were fired from Syria toward Israel’s Mount Hermon in the Golan Heights, an intruding force of a different kind crossed the border — grasshoppers.

Despite the lack of any open skies agreement between the two countries, which are officially at war, thousands of the insects have crossed into Israel over recent days and invaded Moshav Alonei Habashan, close to the border on the heights — and Syria seems to be the most obvious source.

Buki Nagari of the Hebrew University told the Kan public broadcaster Tuesday that he did not recall the arrival of so many grasshoppers — thought to be the most ancient living group of chewing insect herbivores on the planet.

“It’s a bit annoying,” Natan Ziffer, a moshav member, told the broadcaster, as the insects munched away on the leaves of the vegetables he has been growing and his children imitated the creatures jumping. “They get into your house, your car, your hair.”

Yaron Dekel, a researcher at Haifa University’s Shamir Research Institute, which deals with wildlife ecology, and the Safed Academic College, said it was pointless trying to eradicate them with chemicals.

“If you kill 200 in one day, another 2,000 will come during the night,” he said.

The new arrivals are expected to move elsewhere fairly quickly, but not before the females have laid hundreds of thousands of grasshopper eggs in Alonei Habashan’s soil.

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