Experts have warned that exotic pests will destroy the coconut plantations on south China's tropical Hainan Island within several years if no effective measures are taken.
It would have a huge impact on 500,000 island residents, who depend on coconuts for a living.
The black insect is less than 1 centimeter long, and can cause coconut trees to wither and die.
According to Shen Youxiao, head of Hainan's forest pest control station, the pest was firstly found in Haikou, capital of Hainan, last June.
It has since been found in 11 counties and cities on the island and nearly 460,000 coconut trees have been attacked, accounting for 6.6 percent of the 7 million coconut trees on the island, Shen was quoted by Xinhua News Agency as saying. Only 30,000 trees had been attacked last June.
Shen said the spread of the pest has started to slow down thanks to measures taken by the provincial government. Pesticides are being sprayed and contaminated trees removed.
However, the method is not particularly effective as the pest, especially its egg, burrows so deeply into the tree that pesticide does not have a profound impact, Shen said.
In addition, the pest has no natural enemies on the island, which enables it to spread rapidly.
According to Shen, relevant departments in Hainan are preparing to introduce an insect from Viet Nam, which is its natural enemy.
The introduction is expected to occur in the first half of next year, he said.
(China Daily November 24, 2003)