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PIA Press Release
2009/02/06

Pest infestation of mangroves noted in Iloilo, Aklan

by T. Villavert

Iloilo City (6 February) -- The Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Region 6 (DENR 6) warned all coastal areas of Northern Iloilo and Aklan provinces on the threats posed by a certain species infesting mangroves as it confirmed an outbreak of pest infestation in seven (7) coastal municipalities of Capiz Province.

According to the press report of information Officer Rhodora Capulso of the DENR 6 the affected areas in Capiz are President Roxas, Roxas City, Ivisan, Pilar, Sapian, Panay, and Pontevedra.

"The latest spot report received by this office, pest manifestation was also observed in Banate and Ajuy but this was not yet confirmed on the ground by the DENR team", Capulso said.

Capulso disclosed that per report of the assessment team of the DENR composed of specialists from the Ecosystems Research and Development Services (ERDS) and the Protected Areas and Wildlife and Coastal Zone Management Services (PAWCZMS), they had sampled two sites; one in Brgy. Pawa, Panay, Capiz and the other at Poblacion River, Sapi-an, Capiz.

The team had observed that almost all of the Bungalon species (Avencennia marina) was infested by an insect larva of a certain species under the Order Lepidoptera although further observations showed that those same species that are reached by the seawater during high tide were not affected. The larval stage of this insect is most harmful because they eat the succulent parts of the leaves causing it to dry and discolor. Accordingly, this kind of species has two or more generations per year and will continue to reproduce as long as the weather conditions are favorable. There is a period of dormancy in the life cycle of the insect especially during low temperature.

Sample specimens were collected by the team and were sent immediately to the Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau, Los Baņos, Laguna for further identification of the insect pest and its harmful effects to the mangrove trees. The team also warned the coastal communities to handpick these larva and pupas and bury them under the ground on dry land and not to use chemical pesticides to eradicate the pest since this may cause more harm not only to the trees but also to other marine life in the area.

It is also advised that a regular monitoring must be done by the community concerned and must report any sign of mangrove tree leaves that defoliate (yellowing and drying with the presence of pupa or larva) to the nearest DENR office so that this could be assessed immediately.

Mangrove forest is one important ecosystem that serves as the spawning ground of fishes, crustaceans, and shellfishes. It serves also as a buffer from storms and tsunami and maybe a source of livelihood for the coastal communities. Once the mangrove is destroyed, it is very costly to rehabilitate it.

The early detection of pest infestation may save the mangrove trees from further damage, the report said. (DENR/PIA 6) [top]

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