The Taj Mahal in its regular garb. (Photo: Shikhar Sharma/CC BY-SA 3.0)
by Cara Giaimo, originally posted on Atlas Obscura
The Taj Mahal, one of the world's most-visited monuments, draws 20,000 people every day.
Over the past few weeks, though, Agra's iconic building has hosted some less welcome visitors: swarms of Chironomus calligraphus insects, Times of India reports. The winged vandals fly up to the Taj from the nearby Yamuna river, crawl all over the walls, and leave behind green smears of bug poop.
Environmentalists say the problem lies with the Yamuna, which has borne the brunt of Agra's growing industrialization. "Fifty-two drains are pouring waste directly into the river," activist DK Joshi told the BBC. The pollution kills the river's insect-eating fish, which precipitates a bug population explosion.
The green smears are easily hosed off, but that just hides the larger issues, say Joshi and other concerned citizens. On Monday, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav ordered officials to take action to fix the problem. Sometimes, bugging the government works.