PESTICIDES LED TO INFESTATION: Rice black bugs plague Northern Iloilo towns

By: Emme Rose Santiagudo

RICE BLACK bugs have infested the towns of Sara, San Dionisio, Ajuy, Concepcion in Iloilo, the Provincial Agriculture Office (PAO) reported.

Assistant provincial agriculturist Elias Sandig said rice black bugs were also sighted in the town of Banate.

While the other four towns have no standing rice crops, Sandig said Banate is now at risk of possible damage that might be caused by the rice pests on standing crops if these are not controlled.

“Ang first reported naton nga apat ka munisipyo, mayad lang to kay wara pa standing crop pero ang sa Banate gaumpisa ron magtubo, the rice crops are on their early vegetative stage kun indi maagapan, atakehon gid sang black bugs,” he said.

Rice black bugs feed on rice crops by sucking through its stem, causing it to wither and die.

According to Sandig, the black bug infestation in the four towns is considered normal, since this is also the season of black bugs.

Before, black bugs were not considered pests as there are a lot of predators that feed on them, Sandig explained.

The increase in their population is linked to the decreasing number of their predators caused by the widespread use of harmful chemicals in farming.

“Gulpi magrako kay wara ti gakaon. But, once they infest gaspray kita ka hilo and indi lang sila ang patay man kundi pati ang ila mga predators like frogs and birds,” he said.

As of now, Sandig said the four towns have already purchased a “super light” which they utilize to attract and dispose of the rice pests.

“Ang aton munisipyo bal-an nanda ang control measures actually and ang apat ka banwa may available na sanda na super light nga ginagamit nanda kung gab-i para maattract nanda ang black bugs kag matipon kag masulod sa sako,” he said.

He added that the Department of Agriculture (DA) in Western Visayas has also provided a biological control agent to target the rice black bugs.

Since, the rice black bugs can also travel from one town to another, Sandig advised the other neighboring municipalities to be vigilant and immediately report any sighting of the said pests.

The first infestation of rice black bugs was reported in Iloilo in 2010, according to Sandig.

In 2014, another species of rice black bugs was also monitored in the province.