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Invasive Moth and Beetle Cause Huge Losses

Two invasive alien pests are threatening plants and crops in areas around Beijing and could lead to serious disaster if not effectively controlled, say forestry officials.

Still, the pests have not been found in Beijing and city departments are prepared to prevent the pests from entering the capital, Beijing forestry officials said.


Pupa of American white moth has been found in many places in north China's Hebei Province, which borders Beijing.


Meanwhile, red turpentine beetle has killed several million Chinese pines in the Taihang Mountain region in north China's Shanxi Province, not far away from the capital, according to a China Central Television (CCTV) report.


American white moth has strong reproductive ability. Each moth can lay 2,000 to 3,000 eggs. A family of larva can eat the leaves of a healthy tree in several days, the report said. In addition to Hebei's Qinhuangdao, Langfang, Tangshan and Cangzhou, the moth has also been found in parts of Tianjin Municipality.


Red turpentine beetle eats the bark from the lower part of a tree, eventually leading to its death. It is destructive to trees like Chinese pines.


Di Jimin, head of the Hebei control station for forest diseases and pests, was quoted by CCTV as saying the pests spread fast and serious disaster could be caused if control measures are not taken.


An official with the Beijing forestry bureau, who refused to be identified, said Monday so far the two pests have not been found in the capital.


Strict control and prevention measures against invasive alien forest pests have been in place in the city for the past years, he said.


For example, large-scale inspections are carried out across Beijing each May and October and each year nearly 200 planes spray pesticide in places where invasive alien pests may thrive.


The official added efforts are underway by relevant departments in Hebei, Tianjin and Beijing, to prevent American white moth from entering the city.


Invasive alien species are causing great losses to China's biodiversity, forestry and agriculture. Chinese experts have called for strengthened control over such species.


Statistics show invasive alien species have been found in all the provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities in China.


And alien species have also found their way to almost all the nature reserves in the country.


It is difficult to halt the damage caused by invasive species, because, once introduced, they become part of the environment and become difficult to eliminate, said Cai Lei, an expert with the State Environmental Protection Administration.


The impact of such species is devastating.


Each year the area of forests damaged by invasive pests such as the American white moth, totals 1.5 million hectares.


A proposal raised put forth during the 10th Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, China's top political advisory body, says invasive alien species cause a loss of more than 57 billion yuan (US$6.9 billion) to China's agriculture and forestry each year.


The proposal gives some suggestions for the control of invasive alien species, including the establishment of an invasive alien species control law and strengthening research efforts.


(China Daily March 30, 2004)

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