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PIA Press Release

PCA moves to contain spread of coconut pests

By Bong Pedalino

Maasin City (4 February) -- At least three upland barangays in this city became the focus of a fast-track intervention by the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) after coconut farmers reported the threatening presence of brontispa and plesispa insects on their young coconuts.

In a "Coconut Leaf Beetle Infestation Report" submitted today, a copy of which was furnished to PIA, Manuel Sembrano, head of the PCA in the province, identified the affected rural barangays as Pinaskohan, San Agustin, and San Rafael, where eleven farmers and one coconut nursery were involved in these three areas as being infested by the said coconut pests.

In barangay Pinaskohan, four coconut trees were treated for brontispa, another 50 for plesispa; 7 for brontispa, 30 plesispa for barangay San Agustin; and 12 brontispa, 400 plesispa in a coco nursery at barangay San Rafael, for a total of 23 brontispa and 480 plesispa-infested trees treated with the chemical called "karate" on separate dates in four occasions in January or just last month.

The PCA report, which was submitted to the Regional and Central Office, also disclosed that some 30,000 available coconut seedlings were sprayed with karate as a preventive measure.

Sembrano said in an interview that the source or origin of these bugs were not yet determined, even as he kept receiving similar reports in other places of the province, although he has yet to verify or confirm such reports.

The two bugs are commonly regarded as major pests in coconut nurseries and among young plants up to two or three years of age. Both their larval and adult stages feed between the closely pressed, unfolded palm fronds of the young plants, so they are not seen easily while voraciously eating the upper and lower surfaces of the tender leaves.

The young leaves of infected plants appear dessicated, burned or scorched resulting from a feeding frenzy damage. Growth is often seriously retarded if not tended early on and, if the attack is sever and of long duration, the plants may die.

Bontispa (Brontispa longissima), or the coconut leaf beetle as its common name, are elongated, flattened in shape, 8-12 mm long, while Plesispa (Plesispa reichei) is almost similar in appearance but has a dark brown head and antenna, and about 10 mm long. (PIA-Southern Leyte) [top]

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