The cicadas of Provence

Plague of insects could wipe out lavender crop in 20 to 30 years

The famed fields of lavender in southern France’s Provence region are doomed to destruction if a solution is not found to curb the damage done by cicadas.

A small cicada known as a cicadelle—which has proliferated, French lavender producers believe, due to global warming—has been fingered as the culprit, according to the UK’s Guardian newspaper. Cicadelles lay their eggs beneath the roots of the lavender plant and the hatched larvae destroy the roots. Adult cicadelles also transmit a deadly microbacterium to the plants.

“It’s hard to imagine Provence without lavender,” said Eric Chaisse, of the Provence regional center for experimentation on plants used in aromas, medicines and perfumes, “but if we don’t get on top of this, the lavender will disappear in 20 to 30 years.”