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Belgian Troops Deployed To Battle Marauding Caterpillars

Procession caterpillars are causing problems in Belgium.
by Staff Writers
Brussels (AFP) June 01, 2007
Belgian troops are preparing to battle an invasion of hairy caterpillars which can provoke allergic reactions in humans, authorities announced Friday. From Monday, a contingent of 24 soldiers will take part in the fight against the well-organised creepy-crawlies, called procession caterpillars because of their habit of marching in lines. They will join forces with firefighters, civil protection officers and private firms already doing battle against their tiny foes.

For the last two weeks several communes in Limburg have been invaded, with pedestrians, cyclists, outside workers and school children among the victims.

Authorities said that some 20 communes in the northern Flemish Brabant region has also been hit. Such attacks by the hairy greyish creatures have hit Belgium since 1990. "We have seen an extension of their territory compared to last year," said Brabant official Martine Verbeeck.

The caterpillars are common in central and southern Europe but have been tending northwards. Their hairs are an irritant to people and animals alike. With a little hook on their tails, they are easily dispersed by the wind.

People touched by a caterpillar can suffer itches, painful rashes and irritated eyes. The symptoms can last up to two weeks.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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The Hague (AFP) June 03, 2007
Representatives from 171 nations, monitored by a small army of wildlife advocates, began debating dozens of sharply contested measures Sunday on how best to regulate the global trade in wildlife. "You are making policy for the biodiversity of the future," Gerda Verburg, chairwoman and Dutch agriculture and nature minister, told some 2,500 delegates from the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, better known as CITES.

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