|By goGreen | March 30, 2012|
An ordinary lygaeid bug that feeds on legumes is now the latest pest threatening the rice granary of Region 7.
Bert Barrion, Doctor of Entomology of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), however says that what is believed to be a new pest initally called ‘rice grain bug’ is not really new at all. It used to feed on legumes but has changed its host to rice.
Bert Castillo, Chief of the Regional Crop Protection Center (RCPC), adds that the diversification of host could be caused by the environment and climate change. Since it is a new pest in rice, its biologicial and ecological management has yet to be observed.
The lygaeid bug is grain-sucking and panicle-eating ,making it a potential threat to the vast rice areas of Bohol. It attacks the panicles at its reproductive stage , it is elongated , has a distinct odor, it has a dirty-brown color and the damage is similar to that of the rice bug.
Castillo explains that the infestation shows a 50-60% damage on crops- making the grains commercially unfit.
The pest, believed to be have been transmitted through irrigation canals, is half the size of a rice bug with bigger front legs making it more of a crawler than a flyer. The visible damage is manifested by brown spots in the grains.
Immediate remedy requires spraying the plants with appropriate insecticides and continuous pest management in affected areas.
So far, 16 hectares have been reported infected in the municipalities of Valencia, Dimiao, Garcia- Hernandez, and Batuan. These areas reportedly account 33% of the total irrigated and rainfed rice areas in Bohol.
The said bug has also been reported to have damaged rice farms in Camarines Sur, Masbate, Southern Leyte, Zamboanga Sur, Surigao Norte and Agusan Norte covering almost 200 hectares.
Regional Executive Director Leo Cañeda has ensured that the Department of Agriculture will be immediately coordinating with the concerned local government units for the development of a biological protocol to prevent the spread of the pest and implementation of a quick response scheme.
It is noted that the region is bracing up for its food sufficiency program in support of zero-importation target by 2013, where Bohol plays a major role as the biggest rice producing area in the region.
Source: Department of Agriculture – Cebu
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