Wed, Jun 12, 2019 - Page 4 News List

Invasive pest confirmed in Miaoli farm

FALL ARMYWORM:The insect has spread from North America since 2016, reaching China this year, with 18 Chinese provinces reporting economic losses

Staff writer, with CNA

A fall armyworm crawls on an ear of corn in an undated photograph taken at the Flying Cow Ranch in Miaoli County by the Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine.

Photo: CNA

The crop-destroying fall armyworm has been found on a Miaoli County farm — the first such case in Taiwan, the Council of Agriculture said on Monday.

The find at the Flying Cow Ranch was confirmed after council and local government officials analyzed insects discovered in a corn field on Saturday, following a report from a member of the public, said Chen Po-hung (陳宏伯), a Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine official.

The corn plants in the field have been destroyed and deposited in a landfill, due to concerns that the infestation could spread, the council said.

Council of Agriculture Deputy Minister Huang Chin-cheng (黃金城) earlier in the day had said that fall armyworms had only been found in one field in Miaoli, where crops for animal feed were grown.

No traces of the highly destructive insect have been found in Yunlin, Chiayi and Tainan areas, he said.

Chen said the appearance of the fall armyworm could have been caused by the Miaoli farm not using pesticide on the affected field.

It is hard for fall the insects to survive in Taiwan, even if they arrive on approaching southwestern wind currents from China, as most farms use pesticide and 500 pheromone eliminators have been installed nationwide, he said.

That is why the fall armyworm and other harmful insects have not been detected on Kinmen and Matsu, which are closer to China, nor in other parts of the nation, he said.

An appropriate use of pesticides can help farmers eliminate fall armyworm, and the council recommends four specific pesticides, including neem oil and Bacillus thuningiensis, on its Web site, Chen said.

The council on May 13 held a news conference at which it warned about the possible arrival of the fall armyworm.

If the insects arrive in large numbers, sweet corn and rice fields on Taiwan proper would be vulnerable, and could result in a loss of up to NT$3.5 billion (US$111.34million) annually, the council said.

Since 2016, the fall armyworm has spread from North America to Africa, and from Africa to Asia, including Southeast Asia and India between 2017 and last year, and China this year.

Taiwan Agricultural Research Institute researcher Chiang Ming-yao (江明耀) said the latest information shows that 18 provinces in China, including Hainan, Guangxi, Guangdong, Fujian and Zhejiang, have reported economic losses as a result of the spread of the fall armyworm.

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