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Plague of Flies Caused By Chicken Poop Descends on Russian Villages

Swarms of the insects have blanketed several Russian towns in the Ural Mountains.

by Sarah Emerson
Jun 18 2019, 4:48pm

Image: Russian television Channel One

Millions of flies are swarming Russian villages—breeding, laying eggs, then dying and leaving a mess. “It’s like something from a horror film,” one resident told state media, according to the Guardian.

“Every day or two there’s enough to fill a bucket, half a bucket,” said another. Locals are now dealing with carcasses that are “everywhere.”

The plague of insects descended on several Ural communities last week. On Thursday, state television Channel One described “huge clouds” of flies that appeared in the Sverdlovsk region of west-central Russia.

A reporter with Russia's Channel One crouches next to a field of flies.
A reporter with Russia's Channel One crouches next to a field of flies in a Sverdlovsk village. Screenshot: Channel One

“It’s unbearable,” said a woman holding her child. “I’m afraid for my children. We need to poison the flies constantly [with chemicals], but then we all have to breathe that air. It’s frightening.”

Residents reportedly believe that the outbreak was caused by farmer Andrei Savchenko illegally fertilizing his crops with “a thousand tons” of chicken crap. Some accounts include claims that dead chickens and their entrails were used.

Russian media reports that an investigation into the cause of the flies is underway. The penalty for such an “environmental disaster” may be two years in prison.

Maxim Maksimov, the manager of a nearby poultry farm, confirmed selling the manure to Savchenko, but argued this method was “much better than chemicals,” in an interview with Russian media.

“We were just unlucky with the weather,” Maksimov added. “A wet spring and then a sudden increase in temperatures created favourable conditions for flies to breed.”

Local ecologists say the manure was indeed to blame, according to Russian media, because it became a nutrient-rich source of food for millions of fly larvae.

Maksimov has reportedly offered to cover the field of feces and, if that proves unsuccessful, deploy “special agrochemicals” to kill the insects.

“Flies have existed for millions of years, and they are everywhere,” Savchenko said. “This is just a question of the amount of them. But no one can tell me what the acceptable or cut-off number of flies is.”