On April 17, cards containing Anastatus fulloi wasp eggs were hung up in longan orchards in Tainan’s Dongshan District. When the eggs hatch, 160,000 Anastatus fulloi wasps will emerge to suppress destructive litchi stink bugs (Tessaratoma papillosa). This is a win-win method that maintains an ecological balance while safeguarding the litchi, longan and nectar harvests.
Tainan is the main region for growing litchis and longans, having more than 900 hectares planted with litchi trees and 3,769 hectares planted with longan trees. After litchi trees flower and are pollinated, they form fruit and enter the small-fruit phase. Longan trees are currently in full bloom and the drought has caused them to flower more densely than in previous years. The Tainan City Government Agriculture Bureau says that litchi and longan trees are resistant to drought, so long periods of rainless drought do not have a significant impact on the size of the harvest, and the biggest headache for fruit growers in recent years has been litchi stink bugs.
Dongshan District has 205 hectares planted with litchi trees and 1,387 hectares planted with longan trees — the largest area in Tainan. The Dongshan District Farmers’ Association applied for subsidies for biological control of litchi stink bugs on 10 hectares of land. In the afternoon of April 17, Tainan Mayor Huang Wei-che went to the Dung Shang Mau Coffee Park in Dongshan District’s Nanshih Borough to inspect local industries and hang some Anastatus fulloi wasp egg cards on litchi trees.
Photo: Chang Hsieh-sheng, Liberty Times 照片：自由時報張協昇
Huang said that litchis and longans have in recent years been affected by insect pests that need to be controlled across county and city boundaries. He said that biological control, in particular, should be employed to reduce litchi stink bug infestation, ensure the quantity and quality of production and boost farmers’ income while being as friendly as possible to the environment.
Litchi stink bug infestation can be prevented by chemical control in the form of spraying insecticide, physical control by removing litchi stink bug clusters or biological control by placing Anastatus fulloi wasp cards so that when the adult wasps emerge they can lay their eggs inside litchi stink bug eggs and parasitize them, thus preventing the stink bug eggs from hatching. This method maintains an ecological balance by using predatory insects to control insect pests.
Agriculture Bureau Director Hsieh Yao-ching says that longans and litchis are important sources of nectar for honey bees. He says that using insects to control insects is an environmentally friendly method of biological control that prevents bees from being killed by insecticide while collecting nectar, thus safeguarding farmers’ future income from collecting honey as well as from harvesting litchis and longans.
Photo: Yang Chin-cheng, Liberty Times 照片：自由時報楊金城
(Translated by Julian Clegg, Taipei Times)
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