Catterpillars depleting grazing in Aminuis

GOBABIS; Farmers in the Omaheke Region’s drought-stricken Aminuis Constituency have been hit by another impediment to their farming activities – an increase in the caterpillar population which is now gobbling up the limited grazing in the area.

The armies of caterpillars, which feed primarily on green leaves, have turned the few shrubs and plants in the area which have just started to bear leaves into a sea of dry, grey terrain.

This has left most of the small livestock – goats and sheep – with nothing to graze on as they depend on these shrubs and plants for feed.

Farmers are already struggling to feed their large livestock due to the limited grazing in the area as the land is virtually barren due to the drought situation.

Supii Ndjoze of Orevia village, located some 90 kilometres (km) south of Gobabis, told Nampa on Tuesday since the caterpillars were first noticed in the village, their population has continued to surge.

He said the village has never had such a high number of caterpillars, and as such many farmers here are clueless as to what to do to salvage their grazing.

“This is the first time we see such a high number of caterpillars in one season. Usually caterpillars come with high rainfall, but we are yet to experience good rains here. We are caught between a rock and a hard place here,” he said.

Another farmer, Joseph Hiambazapo of Okongowa village said his village has also not been spared and they are now devising ways to get rid of the caterpillars.

“This is terrible. We are already struggling to feed our cows, now the limited grazing that was there for the small livestock is also gone. Where to now?” Hiambazapo said.

Caterpillars are the larval form of members of the order Lepidoptera – the insect order comprising butterflies and moths. They are mostly herbivorous in food habit, although some species are insectivorous.

They are voracious feeders and many of them are considered to be pests in agriculture. Many moth species are better known in their caterpillar stages because of the damage they cause to fruits and other agricultural produce.