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Saturday, 23 September, 2000, 12:15 GMT 13:15 UK
Athletes given swarm reception
Spectators and competitors at open air evening events in the Sydney Olympics are being pestered by swarms of large flying insects attracted to the bright lights.
The powerful floodlights at the 110,000 seater Olympic stadium, combined with warm weather, are attracting hundreds of thousands of large Bogong moths which can grow to 10 centimetres (four inches) long.
Now Olympic organisers are considering plans to cull thousands of them to ensure the safety of both competitors and spectators.
The insects are harmless but many overseas visitors have been unnerved by their presence.
They have also invaded the toilet facilities, causing cleaning problems.
Britain's 400m runner Donna Fraser complained on Friday evening that the moths might get behind her sunglasses as she ran, and countless other athletes were seen waving away the pests.
A spokesman for the Games, Liz Smylie, said that organisers are 'monitoring' the moths, who are migrating to Sydney for the coming summer.
"It is something that happens annually and we're keeping a very close eye on them," Smylie said.
She admitted killing the moths was an option.
"It depends how big of a problem we think it's going to become.
"That could be something that we may have to look at to ensure the safety of spectators and athletes."
Some of the moths are the size of a small bird, but the athletes can rest assured they they are harmless.
In past years, the moths have been responsible for blocking air conditioning systems, clogging elevator shafts and setting off alarms.
The moths invaded Parliament House in Canberra in 1988.
On rare occasions, they have even been responsible for car accidents.
The moths get stuck in the gap between car doors and then fly around once the car is in motion, alarming drivers.
If they are culled, restaraunt menus could get interesting - Bogongs are also reported to be a culinary treat, possessing a nutty taste somewhere between a pecan and a walnut.
One recommendation is to saute them in butter with onion and garlic and serve on toast.
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