Millions of zombie crabs are currently roaming around in huge swarms following a population boom.
The crabs emerged early and in unprecedented swarms around Bay of Pigs, Cuba, according to local residents.
After two years of Covid, the crabs have grown massively in size and number because they were normally allowed to cross busy roads at rest.
After the spring rains begin on the island, millions of red, yellow and black crustaceans emerge at dawn and dusk and march out of the forest across the road and down to Cuba’s southern coast to spawn in the sea.
After mating, mass migration occurs as the females return to the sea to release their eggs for incubation, where the larvae live as plankton.
“There was very little traffic and very little tourism,” said Angel Iraola, 46, who guards a parking lot off the winding, crab-strewn road that skirts the bay. “There are more crabs now than there have been in many years.”
Reinaldo Santana Aguilar, a scientist with the Cuban Ministry of the Environment, analyzed the significant increase in population and said:
“We observed that the migrations had an unusually high crab density.”
“It’s very likely that crab populations have recovered and that’s why there’s such heavy migration now.”
Zombie crabs get their unique name because they are the host organism for two species of flies that receive nutrition, shelter, and exercise from the crab.
These flies occupy the crustaceans for most of their lives and are reluctant to leave.
They lay eggs around the crab’s eyes, where the larvae migrate into their host and live there, feeding on naturally produced microbes.
Over time, the larvae move towards the crab’s gill chamber and then the mouthparts before falling to the ground to develop into adult flies.
Many crabs often died when they were crushed by cars in the pre-Covid years, but their sharp shells can easily puncture tires.
Giordanis Duran, 43, was surprised by the large number of crabs this year but came prepared.
He used a homemade mop to shoo crabs off the road in front of his car as his family went to a local waterfront hangout to celebrate a birthday.
“We use the mop to scare away the crabs so as not to kill them. They’re animals,” said Duran, who noted the tactic also helps ward off punctures.
Zombie crabs are commonly found in the Caribbean in countries like Cuba and Barbados.
They are omnivores and feed primarily on plants, while their predators can include birds.
This article originally appeared on The sun and is reproduced here with permission.
https://nypost.com/2022/03/25/millions-strong-plague-of-zombie-crabs-migrate-in-unprecedented-swarms-after-population-boom/ Millions of zombie crab plagues migrate in “unprecedented” swarms after population boom