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Insects swarm Lebanon's residential areas spreading 'apocalyptic' panic

A recent heatwave in Lebanon encouraged the insects to emerge [Twitter]

Date of publication: 16 May, 2020

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Small bugs and larger beetles swarmed homes in various Lebanese regions and caused alarm on Friday, though experts say the creatures are 'harmless'.
Lebanon's residents were alarmed on Friday night when they found hundreds of bugs trying to break into their homes, buzzing around lightbulbs on their balconies. 

Images and videos of small ant-like bugs and larger black beetles made the rounds on social media, causing panic among the Lebanese.

"There's a wave of insects in Lebanon rn [right now] and literally insects are flying everywhere we closed all the windows and they're all glued to the windows," a Lebanon-based twitter user wrote.

Scenes of the insects buzzing around in hundreds were referred to as 'apocalyptic' by some who also listed Lebanon's recent misfortunes – wildfires, economic collapse, currency devaluation, surge in unemployment, a coronavirus outbreak and looming fears of food insecurity.

The widescale panic prompted the Lebanese Agricultural Research Institute, which falls under the agriculture ministry, to respond in a series of Facebook posts identifying the insects spotted in Baalbeck, Arsal and Sidon as the common sun beetle, black dung beetle and spinola bug.

The Director of the Agricultural Scientific Research Department, Michel Frem, told local news station MTV that the beetles are harmless. "We have seen a similar incident last year; it does not affect human health and these insects gather around lights," Frem said.

While authorities assured residents the bugs were harmless to humans, many grossed-out social media users still complained of their unbased fears of insects.

Read also: Gloves and masks litter Middle East amid virus panic

"The only thing Lebanon was missing were swarms of insects. Just make the world end already," one person wrote.

According to The Daily Star, the beetles, locusts or cockroaches emerged as a result of rainfall, followed by a sudden uptick in temperatures. 

A current heatwave in Lebanon has encouraged the insects to search for shelter and food. Residents were told to avoid killing the sun beetles and turn off outside lights and lamps, as well as seal their windows and doors to prevent the insects from going into their homes.


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