Unbearable. This is how the situation suffered by pickers of the Plana Baixa is described. Municipalities in the region have been hit hard by a 'mosquito explosion' that has made it necessary to stop the orange harvest campaign in the most affected areas, as pickers are unable to work without getting bitten multiple times by the mosquitos.
The first consequence of this, according to the owner of some orange fields, is "that people are unable to earn their wages and, to top it off, they go home with half a hundred bites." He also warned that "we cannot delay the campaign because, otherwise, there will be overlap with other varieties, which will affect the growers."
For their part, the two biggest Nules-based cooperatives acknowledged that the pest's rebound is causing "serious problems."
José Manuel Ripollés, of Cipla, says that the complaints from the pickers are "constant", but without reaching the point of them not going to work. "The pest is hitting mostly the lower areas of the municipality, where the citrus orchards are located," he says.
Moncofa is suffering similar issues. Producers stress that doing their usual job has turned into "an odyssey," since they are constantly covered by the annoying insects. To try avoiding them, they put on more clothes than normal and use repellents, but these hardly help, because the mosquitos usually appear in the form of clouds that contain hundreds of them.