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Forest Pests Under Control in S. China

Damage caused by an exotic forest pest, Quadrastichus erythrinae Kim, is under control after it ravaged coral trees in some places in south China, according to an official with the State Forestry Administration (SFA) in Beijing on Monday.


The insect Quadrastichus erythrinae Kim was identified and named in 2004, and is found mainly in Mauritius, Hawaii and Singapore. It eats vegetation and has a high reproductive capacity and short life cycle. It made its first appearance in Shenzhen in south China's Guangdong Province and was identified as the cause of death of local Erythrina variegate, or coral trees, in July.


By October 19, the insect had been identified in Sanya and Wanning in southern China's Hainan Province and Xiamen in southeast China's Fujian Province, Wei Diansheng, director of SFA's Department of Afforestation, said.


According to Wei, the Indian coral tree, the insect's main victim, has important herbal qualities. In recent years, Guangdong and Fujian provinces introduced many saplings of the species, which serve as ready fodder for the insect. 


Zhao Liangping, an official in charge of pest prevention with the SFA, said many measures have been taken to bring the plague under effective control, such as the use pesticide, pruning diseased leaves and branches, and burning ailing trees.


Shenzhen and other areas stricken by the plague are monitoring affected trees to contain the spread, Zhao said.


According to sources with the SFA, forest pests cause 88 billion yuan (US$11 billion) in losses annually, of which losses caused by Quadrastichus erythrinae Kim and other exotic pests account for 60 percent.


"To eliminate exotic pests, we should concentrate on quarantine and monitoring. As for preventing an attack by domestic pests, we should try to broaden the variety of plants so as to enhance their resistance to disease," said Wu Jian, an engineer with the SFA.


(Xinhua News Agency October 25, 2005)

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