UnNews:Banana worms threaten Utah farmers

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Careful -- not all bananas are created equal!

16 March 2014
Salt Lake City, Utah -- Farmers here remain extremely concerned over the recent outbreak of banana worms in neighboring Southern California. Some[who?] have been described as being in a terrible terrified tizzy over the situation. Though the first such outbreak in a number of years, this could prove the most costly yet if the worms make it across the state line into Utah, as the construction of several solar powered desalination plants under the Federal Mormon Rehabilitation Act has allowed for a massive expansion in the number of banana plantations, as a result of which the largest fraction of the state's income now comes from its banana exports.

Both Southern California and Utah have been placed on notice by the United Nations that they may be in danger of losing their Banana Republic status if the invasion is not stopped.

In fact, banana worms cause little direct damage to bananas. They typically remove no more than one banana from a bunch at a time, leaving the rest in salable condition. The problem stems from their proclivity for hiding in ambush in the gap left by the missing banana, where their natural camouflage allows them to approach their prey, who could otherwise outrun them. Their victims are typically small mammals, such as guinea pigs, gerbils, and cats.

Farm hand under attack by banana slugs

Utah farmers are also concerned about possible responses by the Southern California authorities. Several years ago, an attempt at biocontrol using banana slugs as agents against the banana worms nearly devastated the ecosystems of several southwestern states. The consequences of that unfortunate action are still being felt in Utah today, as farmers must contend with a constant influx of banana slugs, which can be nearly as lethal as banana worms when encountered in force.

Farmers, reeling under the impact of the latest news stories from "The Baja", as southern California is called here, gathered today outside the State House to voice their concerns, where we had a chance to interview several of them. Mr Shlabotnik, whose 3000 acre banana plantation lies just south of Salt Lake City, commented that so far, he's "lost 400 acres of prime banana. Once they're infested, not much you can do, just have to get out the ol' flame throwers and burn 'em out. Tried usin' them California slugs, hardly made a dent in the worms, and now we got more slugs than we know what to do with. Made slug preserves, slug jam, slug jelly, roast slug, 400 jars of sluggaroo, and we've still got slugs, and now we've got them worms again, too, and nobody's buy t'bananas when they hear we got t'worms, too skeered, afeered the worms'll eat up all their poor ol cats. Silly, all they need to pertect their cats, is keep a flame thrower in the kitchen, then if'n they sees a worm comin' out of the bananas, hissss...FOOSH!! and it's gone. Good fer cleanin' the crumbs off the kitchen table, too, just one shot an' she's clean as when she come home from Walmart."

Banana slug under attack by farm hand

Utah salt farmers, who raise the state's second most important crop, were far less severely affected by the slug invasion, as the invaders dissolve on contact with their crops. No salt farmers were present at today's demonstration. However, we reached Mr. Fnoodle by telephone late in the afternoon. Mr. Fnoodle owns a 500 acre family salt plantation situated about 300 furlongs southeast of the city. We asked his opinion of the worm problem. He said he's not concerned. "Just throw a little salt on 'em, and squelch!, down they go." However, he added, "The trouble we've got is them <expletive deleted> banana thrips. If they just hadn't a' brought in them slugs they'd a' never a' happened.", he added bitterly.

A banana infested with thrips

As mentioned in recent articles in this paper, the East Asian banana thrips, which were accidentally imported along with the banana slugs, have been a pest to all local farmers, including the salt farmers. Though banana farmers dislike the thrips due to their tendency to eat their bananas, they are a problem for other farmers as well as local business people, due in part to their tendency to carry off dogs and other small creatures. What they do with the dogs after carrying them off is not currently known.