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Taiwan - COA warns fruit farmers against stink bugs

The Council of Agriculture alerted farmers to an increase in the breeding activity of lychee stink bugs. Now the weather is turning warmer, it advised them to use biological methods to combat the insects when fruit trees begin to blossom.

Lychee stink bugs (Tessaratoma papillosa), which are often found on lychee, longan, Taiwan golden-rain and Chinese soapberry trees, are considered pests by farmers, as they feed on sprouts, the council said.

As they last year caused serious damage to domestic lychee and longan production, the council has planned pre-emptive measures after meeting with local officials and farmers, COA Chief Secretary Chang Chih-sheng told reporters in Taipei. Domestic fields growing lychee and longan plants amount to 20,000 hectares, an important crop in central and southern regions, he said.

The stink bugs often hide in winter and start breeding when spring approaches, so it is crucial to restrict their breeding earlier. Farmers should immediately remove leaves on which stink bug eggs are found, Chang said.

The council last year released 4.05 million wasps and this year plans to deploy 16.6 million wasps at lychee and longan farms in Kaohsiung, Taichung, Tainan and Keelung, as well as Yilan, Miaoli, Changhua, Nantou and Kinmen counties, said Lu Hsiu-ying, director of the COA’s Miaoli District Agricultural Research and Extension Station, which last year employed unmanned aerial vehicles to release the wasps.

Originally an alien species, lychee stink bugs were first spotted in outlying Kinmen about 20 years ago and later spread to Kaohsiung and other areas.

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