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Unfortunately, this is no joke. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, the caterpillars — the suspects are African armyworms — are inching across norther Liberia in numbers so vast they can only be described as “hordes.” They are infecting precious food and water supplies, destroying the environment, and endangering health. Worse, they may spread into neighboring West African countries, igniting a kind of regional catastrophe not seen since (albeit very different from) Liberian warlord Charles Taylor enmeshed the region in war. With no solution yet apparent, the crisis calls to mind some sort of twisted horror movie.

The caterpillars, two to three centimetres in length and described by villagers as “black, creeping and hairy,” are advancing in the tens of millions, devouring all plants and food crops in their path and in some cases overrunning homes and buildings.

I think folks in the Netherlands, then, would rightly object if I suggest sending the worms to join Taylor in The Hague.

(image from flickr user tanyacameron under a Creative Commons license)

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