Swarms of insects breeding in a polluted river near the Taj Mahal are threatening the intricate marble inlay work at the 17th-century monument to love by leaving green and black patches of waste on its walls, archaeological experts say. Workers scrub the walls clean every day, but the regular scrubbing can damage the floral mosaics and shiny marble surface, says a spokesman for the Archaeological Survey of India. "A series of marble panels depicting plant motifs on the walls or reflective tiles used in this part of the monument are becoming disfigured," he tells the AP. The highest elected official of the state of Uttar Pradesh, where the Taj Mahal is located, calls the insect menace a matter of "serious concern."
Authorities are looking for a permanent solution to the problem created by the insects from the genus Goeldichironomus, a type of elongated fly that resembles a mosquito, that's proliferating in the polluted Yamuna River. The river has stagnated to the point that it no longer supports fish that once kept the insects in check, an environmentalist says. In addition, heavy algal growth and deposits of phosphorus from ash dumped by a nearby cremation ground "are the primary source of food for this particular species of insect," says an entomologist. State officials say they're looking into ways to control the insect population. (A tourist's selfie turned deadly at the monument last year.)