Extreme Heat Wave in Israel Spawns Explosion in Insect Population

The sharply higher temperatures, following rainy and cooler weather last week, have made conditions ripe for insect populations to spread as things dried out

Zafrir Rinat
Zafrir Rinat
The bug of the type that proliferated in the south in mid-May 2020.
Nysius raphanus, the bug of the type proliferating in the south in mid-May 2020.Credit: Debora Diaz, the Entomological Laboratory/Israel's Health Ministry
Zafrir Rinat
Zafrir Rinat

Israel's current heat has spawned an explosion in the country's insect population in some parts of the country. The Environmental Protection Ministry has received reports from the south of massive numbers of bugs.

Lab testing has identified samples as an insect known in North America as false chinch bugs, which have apparently made their way to populated areas from agricultural fields, and which do not carry disease. The bug was identified by a Health Ministry lab that worked with researchers at Tel Aviv University. Its scientific name is Nysius raphanus.

Sharply higher temperatures this week, which followed rainy and cooler weather last week, have made conditions ripe for insect populations to spread as things dried out, the ministry said, adding that the proliferation of insects appears to be of a type that is not harmful to human beings and against which spraying would be of no value.

Bugs spawned in Israel's south by a heatwave in mid-May 2020

The Meteorological Service says that Israel’s current heat wave could break records for duration, assuming it lasts for the six days that are forecast. In many places, temperatures have risen above 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit), and in the eastern valleys, temperatures of 45 degrees or more have been recorded.

The current heat wave is caused by a high-altitude pressure ridge combined with hot, dry airflows at ground level from the east. High-altitude ridges tend to settle and move relatively slowly, causing prolonged heat. The weather service says this is probably because of climate change.

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