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Taichung govt buys stink bug larvae to protect lychee, longan crop.

In an effort to ward off invading lychee stink bugs, the Taichung Agriculture Bureau announced an initiative to buy their larvae for NT$2 (US$ 0.07) each starting March 1.

The lychee stink bug, officially known as Tessaratoma papillosa, is an agricultural pest with a taste for fruit trees, like lychee and longan trees, and is common to south Asia. The bug interrupts a tree's life cycle and causes its fruit to sour and decay.

The presence of these pests has significantly increased over the last two years and is harming the lychee and longan crop around Taiwan, according to the Bureau. The Bureau decided that the most environmentally friendly way to get rid of the bugs is to offer a buy-back program for the stinkbug eggs and fix the problem at its root.

Once collected the Bureau will release the larvae in fields near the infested areas along with a natural predator, a type of larvae eating wasp, the Anastatus japonicas, said CNA. In this way, the wasps will eat the larvae before they mature into threatening insects.

Communities of the wasp will then be established closer to areas suffering from infestation to more permanently keep the stink bug population at bay.

The Bureau issued a reminder that the stink bug will not attack humans however they may secrete a malodorous liquid when frightened. If the liquid comes in contact with human skin a strong burning sensation may occur and if the liquid enters the eyes it could even result in a loss of sight.

Farmers are encouraged to keep fresh water on hand to rinse the sprayed area immediately as well as wear long sleeves, hats, gloves, and face masks when encountering these insects.

Collected eggs should be refrigerated to slow down their incubation before sending them to the Bureau.

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Publication:Taiwan News (Taipei, Taiwan)
Date:Feb 26, 2018
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