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Aerial Assaults Planned on Destructive Moth

Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei Province have launched a joint initiative to wipe out destructive forest pests, including the American white moth.


Forestry authorities will hire planes to fly more than 1,000 sorties to spray pesticide over roadside green belts and key green projects covering an area of more than 667,000 hectares.


The project is expected to last until the end of September.


Tao Wanqiang, an official with the Beijing Forestry Bureau, said the cost was about 6,500 yuan (US$800) per sortie. Each sortie can spray 800 kilograms of pesticide over an area of 67 hectares.


Tao said they would use the Yun 5 domestic transport aircraft, which have excellent hedge-hopping abilities. The planes can fly at 160 kilometers per hour just slightly over the treetops, making them ideal to spray pesticide.


A helicopter will also be used to launch "precise attacks" on the worst-hit areas.


Tao said a special kind of pesticide would be deployed to specifically target the American white moth from the middle of next month. The pesticide would only be harmful to the species, and not endanger other wildlife.


According to the bureau, six provinces and municipalities in northern China, including Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei, Liaoning, Shandong and Shaanxi, are experiencing problems with the moth.


Altogether, 116 counties are suffering with the moth epidemic, including nine in Beijing.


Tao said the American white moth has an extremely high reproductive ability and spreads very quickly. Each moth lays eggs three times in a year, producing 2,000 to 3,000 eggs on each occasion.


The American white moth is an invasive alien species that was first detected in Dandong in Northeast China's Liaoning Province in 1979.


(China Daily April 18, 2006)


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