In the aftermath of another extended rainy season, Liberia has experienced its worst caterpillar plague in three decades. Tens of millions of the black-haired creatures have swarmed farms, devastated crops and contaminated several major waterways with their feces. The lingering rainy seasons, which might be an indication of global warming, are the likely culprit for the creepy invasion.

Caterpillars feasting on cabbage

Liberian agriculturalists have called for extensive aerial spraying to combat the rapacious larvae, since the caterpillars have managed to bypass more minimal, local attempts to divert the hordes. But UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) officials are concerned that these drastic measures could sacrifice long term recovery for a short term fix. The pesticides could contaminate an already precarious food and water supply, which would escalate environmental concerns in the region for years to come.

The effected food-producing area, already strained from a tenuous recovery following years of civil war, could stand to lose a substantial sum of its coffee and cocoa crop if the crisis continues to loom without significant aid. Furthermore, there is growing concern that the plague could spread to neighboring Guinea, Sierra Leone and Cote d’Ivoire.

According to the FAO, Liberia currently lacks the financial resources and wherewithal to confront this problem without international assistance. For the outbreak to be contained without risking further long term harm to the region’s agriculture, a hearty supply of bio-pesticides will be required. But for many, including the 200,000 inhabitants of the worst-hit area of Bong County, only immediate and drastic solutions are likely to be exercised.

The crisis ominously supports the IPCC prediction that Africa is likely to be the worst hit by global warming, and that many of the negative effects of climate change could be unanticipated and impossible to prepare for.

Image Credit: net_efekt at Flickr under a Creative Commons License