Takeover bid for Almeria’s prized prickly pears

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THE Andalucia regional government received 400 requests for advice on dealing with cochineal insects over the last two years. They attack the prickly pear cactus where they breed in the stems and although the insects pose no threat to humans, animals or other vegetation the plants that they colonise eventually dry up and die.
The Almanzora area, where 80 per cent of the prickly pears, or chumberas, have now been attacked by cochineal insects, is the worst affected. In Campo de Tabernas, Nijar and Poniente, around 60 per cent of the cactus have infestations, the Junta’s Agriculture department revealed.
These plagues have existed in Spain for decades, and the problem is not limited to Almeria. The prickly pears, also known as nopal cactus, have also come under attack from the insects in Malaga, Granada, Murcia and the Valencia Region.

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