If you don’t know, this little chap right here is something called a Pine Weevil. Isn’t he handsome?
He’s also the bane of forestry companies in Europe, because, as his name suggests, the Pine Weevil gobbles down trees, particularly young saplings, like yours truly with those cocktail sausages they hand around at weddings at about 10pm at night. (Aside: why are cocktail sausages so tasty at that time of night, at weddings, just hours after you’ve eaten a four-course dinner? It’s an eternal mystery).
Anyway, the Pine Weevil is capable, left unchallenged, of causing untold damage to saplings that have recently been planted, and it’s natural enough that Coillte would want to wage a war against him and exterminate him totally. Coillte and the Pine Weevil are implacable enemies, like dogs and cats, or Liverpool and Manchester United, or Mick Wallace and a decent suit.
And so, last week, the Federation of Irish Beekeepers, of all people, got this notification:
Irish Forestry Unit Trust have notified us of plans to spray with Cypermethrin for pine weevil in the coming weeks in the below areas.
Leitrim: Halls pic.twitter.com/zybw7vy2WN
— FIBKA (@FIBKA_IE) April 24, 2020
Why, you might ask, are the Beekeepers, of all people, involved?
Because Cypermethrin is lethal stuff. It doesn’t just kill the poor Pine Weevil. It kills every insect it comes into contact with. Butterflies. Caterpillars. Flies, Wasps, and yes, Bees.
If it gets into the water, it is “extremely toxic” to fish and aquatic invertebrates.
Cypermethrin, incidentally, is categorised by the US Environmental Protection Agency as a “possible human carcinogen” because it has been shown to cause cancer in non-insectoid animals, like Mice.
So basically, at the moment when Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil are talking about a new Green Government, that will re-build our ecosystems, and blah blah blah, the present Government is authorising Coillte to wipe out whole ecosystems in parts of the country just to kill the poor little Pine Weevil.
And the residents of Leitrim aren’t especially happy about it. A post on the “Save Leitrim” facebook page reveals that residents have been contacted and asked to stay indoors while the stuff is being sprayed, along with all of their animals:
The worst bit about all of this, of course, is that if Coillte want to take out the Pine Weevil, and stop him from going about his business, there are alternative methods that work very well in other countries. Boosting his natural predators, for example, works well:
“Pine weevils are susceptible to attack from a number of natural enemies such as fungi, parasites and predators. Of these, insect killing nematodes (microscopic worms) are the most promising biological control agent: capable of reducing weevil populations by up to 70%”
Whatever about you, a 70% reduction in Weevils sounds preferable to me than using a pesticide which confines people to their homes, kills 100% of insects, including the perfectly innocent, and risks polluting rivers with fish-killing chemicals.
But then, we should trust the Government. They’re the Green ones, after all.