Postcard from... Ebro Delta
It sounds like a plot from a spoof horror film, but ever since a South American mollusc, the innocent-sounding apple snail, was accidentally released into the rice fields of the river Ebro Delta in 2009, for local farmers, the nightmare scenario of a plague of voraciously hungry snails has been sadly all too true.
Just three members of the Pomacea canaliculata species can, local media say, eat their way through an entire rice field in one day – and there are an estimated five million of the intruders lurking round the cereal plantations scattered along the lower Ebro's left bank. And they are not easy to wipe out: the apple snail can grow up to 10cm long, has no natural predators and – contrary to what everybody thinks about snails and speed – has an exceptionally fast reproductive cycle. They can even swim upstream.
For three years, farms on the right bank of the estuary of the Ebro, Spain's largest river by discharge volume, have remained thankfully free of the implacable hordes of molluscs with the munchies. Until now, that is, when in the middle of the recent rice harvest, a slew of apple snails – somehow – crossed over. Some 60 nests, each with an average of 300 eggs, have been discovered.
Pomacea canaliculata's sudden, en masse, appearance on the Ebro's right bank is blamed locally on human sabotage – in other words, somebody deliberately releasing them. But whoever was responsible for this ecological and agricultural disaster, despite police searching several cars, they have yet to get on their trail: those of the steadily multiplying apple snails, meanwhile, remain sadly all too evident.
- 1 I'm A Celebrity 2014: Jungle security stepped up after murder and 'suspicious death' near to camp
- 3 Jeremy Hunt: 'I took my children to A&E because I didn't want to wait for GP appointment'
- 4 Girl, 7, gets Tesco to remove 'stupid' sign suggesting superheroes are 'for boys'
- 5 This letter from a reader explains why women can’t play football
Sarah Vine criticises lesbian mother Jack Monroe: 'If she was unsure about her sexuality, she should have taken greater precautions'
'Kidnapped boy may have been abused and murdered by VIP paedophile ring,' say police
Black Friday 2014: Opening times for Asda, John Lewis, PC World, GAME and Argos
Jeremy Hunt: 'I took my children to A&E because I didn't want to wait for GP appointment'
Michael Brown shooting: Driver smashes into crowd as protests erupt across the US during a second night of unrest
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
Ukip says babies born to immigrants in the UK should be classed as migrants – which would include Nigel Farage’s own children
Rochester by-election: Labour MP Emily Thornberry resigns after posting white van and England flags tweet
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by Ohio police
Negotiable: Argyll Scott International: Senior Business Analyst - Insurance ...
£25000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This independent, growing Sales...
£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Multi-skilled graphic designer ...
£30000 - £50000 per annum + EXCELLENT: Austen Lloyd: Court of Protection Solic...