Rice black bugs hit three Iloilo towns

Philippine Rice Research Institute Photo

By John Noel E. Herrera

Rice black bugs (RBB), locally known as “atangya”, were reported in three towns in Iloilo province, according to the Provincial Agriculture Office (PAO).

PAO chief Dr. Ildefonso Toledo, on Tuesday, May 9, 2023, said they received information on sightings of rice black bugs in the towns of Concepcion, Cabatuan, and Pototan.

The bugs were first spotted in Barangay Aglosong in Concepcion and the residents were able to collect sacks of the pests.

“May rice black bugs gid man nga reported diri sa amon. I think sa barangay sa Concepcion. Nag-abot ina sa nga balita kay I think may paliga to sila sa ila baranggay Aglusong sa Concepcion and may mga suga gid na siya and, unfortunately because sang kasanag sang ila suga nag swarm ang rice black bugs,” Toledo said.

He stressed that the presence of rice black bugs should be addressed early as the pests will be difficult to manage if neglected and will continue to increase in number.

These bugs can wither rice crops by sucking the stems dry, according to Toledo.

“Amu na siya kung damo ang rice black bugs, makita mo ang imo kaumahan naga-puti, amu na gina tawag nga bug-born meaning wala na juices ang humay, gin-urot na suyop sang RBB, nagaputi dun na siya, meaning laya na ang imo humay,” he explained.

Despite the possible threat to the crops, Toledo did not recommend using pesticides or insecticides against RBB as these could also eliminate “friendly insects”. He instead recommended traps for the bugs.

“Ang dapat ubrahon sang aton mga mangunguma, kung may ara sila ya nga tubi, pwede na nila patubi-an kay inang rice black bug ara man lang na sa puno sang humay. Dapat sila maghimo sang light trapping. Mag set-up sila sang high wattage nga mga suga (2,000 to 3,000 watts) para ma-attract ining rice black bug kag pangrektahon ini manually itipunon, sulod sa sako kag ilubong,” he instead advised farmers.

He added that farmers should conduct synchronous planting to prevent the pests from attacking the crops, but noted that it is hard to do as most of the farmland depends on different irrigation schedules.

“Pinaka importante sini, ang aton farmers, hindi mag-una-una dapat may synchronous planting kita sini kay sa mga humay naton pare-parehas, hindi dayon pag-atakihon sang RBB. But the problem nga hindi kita magpare-pareho kay ang aton irrigation amu ang gina-hulat,” Toledo said.

The presence of the pest, according to Toledo, is normal in farmlands and it increased in number during the summer season, noting that farmers should be vigilant and observe protocols in rice farming.

“Mangin vigilant lang sila, i-observe ang protocols sa rice farming, early detection, and as much as possible hindi lang gid mag-spray kay mapatay man ang friendly insects,” he reminded farmers.