In Zimbabwe You Can Go To Jail For Not Reporting Certain Beetle Sightings To Authorities
If you think that legal penalties are generally harsh here in the United States, then you should feel grateful that you do not live in Zimbabwe. There are numerous ways that one can get arrested in America, but failure to report a bug sighting is not one of them. Tobacco moths and cigarette beetles are pests to tobacco crops in Zimbabwe, and the government takes their eradication very seriously. Ever since the 1970s people who spot one or both of these insects must immediately report their sighting to the proper government authorities.
Cigarette beetles and tobacco moths are seemingly harmless and tiny little bugs. However, these two insect pests can ravage entire tobacco crops, which is a major source of income for the country of Zimbabwe. Controlling these insect pests has proven difficult for the government. In order to find more success at controlling these insect pest populations, the government has started to recruit its own citizens in the control effort, so to speak. Back in 1976 the Government of Zimbabwe passed legislation that made it illegal for citizens to neglect to notify authorities of cigarette beetles and tobacco moths when they are spotted. This law is still on the books today as the “Plant Pest and Diseases Order of 1976”.
The tobacco moth is not as much of a threat to tobacco crops as the larvae (tobacco caterpillars). The caterpillars eat away at tobacco leaves, causing them to die in a quick amount of time. These caterpillars are difficult to locate because of their elusive nature. Once the caterpillars have fed on many leaves and are properly satiated, they will spin webs across tobacco plants in order to find a hidden shelter where it can dwell unnoticed. Finding silk webs amongst tobacco plants is a sign of a serious infestation.
The government is so strict on this matter that farmers can face serious legal consequences for letting their old farming machinery lie around. This is because old and unused machinery can provide these two insect pests with many hiding places. When tobacco bales are found infested with either one, or both, of these pests, authorities will burn the tobacco bales immediately and the area will be quarantined. The cost of these strict preventative measures must be paid for by the producing farmer. This is why farmers in Zimbabwe can often be found burning their old barns with all of their old machinery inside. It may sound easy to get away with breaking this law, but tobacco is popular in Zimbabwe, and where there is tobacco there are cigarette beetles and tobacco moths.
Do you think that agricultural officials in Zimbabwe struggle with controlling these two crop pests due to their lack of advanced farming machinery and pest-control methods?