The Changhua County Government has cut short a reward scheme aimed at reducing the lychee giant stink bug population after it reached double its goal in little over one month.
To control the major agricultural pest, county governments every year offer money for the capture and return of stink bug eggs.
In Changhua County, officials offered NT$5 for each leaf returned that contained at least 10 to 14 eggs.
Photo courtesy of Changhua County Government
The county government had planned to collect 132,000 leaves from the start of the program on Feb. 18 to its end on May 27, but by Friday had already surpassed 260,000 leaves, it said.
In light of the enthusiastic response, the Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine on Friday ordered local governments to cease all reward schemes.
Changhua County gave residents until 4pm yesterday to collect their money and until today to drop off stink bug eggs.
In Fenyuan Township (芬園), which has more than 400 hectares of lychee fields, about a dozen people arrived at the township office early yesterday to collect their rewards before the deadline.
Of them, three brought bags containing at least 1,000 leaves each, earning them NT$5,000.
The township has led the county two years in a row, turning in 53,000 leaves last year and more than 50,000 this year as of Sunday.
Largely to thank for the record numbers is one local woman, who contributed half of the township’s entire haul.
Local officials said the woman, surnamed Chang (張), would keep returning with full bags, earning NT$150,000 after turning in 30,000 leaves.
However, Chang was not the only expert stink bug bounty hunter.
Data from the county’s Department of Agriculture showed that more than NT$350,000 in rewards were distributed in 2019 for stink bug eggs, more than NT$50,000 of which went to one person.
Last year, a collector earned nearly NT$100,000 from the scheme, data showed.
Meanwhile in Taichung, the Taiping District Office on Sunday said it plans to release a natural enemy of the lychee giant stink bug in Yongcheng Park (永成公園) in a bid to control their population.
There are a number of ways to eradicate the stink bugs, including pesticides, pruning, and other physical and biological measures, office Director Hsu Kuei-fang (許貴芳) said.
One method involves releasing the ant-like Anastatus formosanus, a species of wasp endemic to Taiwan that is parasitic to agricultural pests such as the lychee stink bug, but does not sting or bite humans, Hsu said.
The wasp lays its eggs in stink bug eggs, feeding on the nutrients inside before splitting them open to escape after gestation, keeping the stink bug eggs from maturing.
The office plans to release more than 7,000 of the wasps in three stages, Hsu said.
Hopefully through this method, visitors would be able to enjoy the park without the risk of encountering stink bugs, Hsu added.
Additional reporting by Tang Shih-ming and Chen Chien-chih
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