A drone is used to spray pesticide on coconut gardens affected by the coconut black – headed caterpillar in Bến Tre Province’s Bình Đại District. The pest has appeared in the province for the first time. – VNA/VNS Photo Huỳnh Phúc Hậu
BẾN TRE – The Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta province of Bến Tre is taking measures to control the coconut black – headed caterpillar (Opisina Arenosella Walker) which has appeared for the first time in the province, damaging coconut trees.
In Bến Tre, which is the country’s largest coconut producer, the leaf-eating pest has damaged more than 2ha of three coconut gardens in Bình Đại District’s Phú Long Commune.
Bùi Quang Giúp, who owns one of the affected gardens in Phú Long’s Giồng Tre Hamlet, said the pests caused severe damage to his 5,000 sq.m coconut garden over the last two months.
The pest eats old and young leaves and even the surface of immature coconuts, and immature nuts eventually become shredded.
He hired people to spray pesticide but the situation has not improved.
The coconut black - headed caterpillar has damaged coconut gardens in other countries such as India, Sri Lanka and Thailand. However, this is its first appearance in Bến Tre, according to the province’s Plant Protection and Cultivation Sub-department.
The species exists on coconut trees in all forms, from larvae to moth, causing considerable damage to the trees and reducing their yields.
Võ Văn Nam, head of the sub-department, said to prevent further spread of the pest, the province was using a drone to spray pesticide on more than 30ha of coconut gardens in Phú Long.
The drone sprayed pesticide on 2ha of affected coconut gardens and bio-pesticide on 28 ha of nearby coconut gardens to prevent the spread of the pest, he said.
A drone can complete the spraying in a short time so it helps to prevent the pest from moving to other places, according to Nam.
Coconut garden owners should regularly monitor their gardens and remove affected leaves and spray pesticide on affected gardens, Nam said.
Bến Tre faced severe saltwater intrusion and drought in the last dry season, damaging between 30 and 70 per cent of coconut gardens.
After the saltwater intrusion and drought, the yield of coconut gardens declined and they were attacked by various pests, including the coconut black – headed caterpillar.
The province has more than 72,000ha of coconut trees with an annual output of more than 600 million coconuts, accounting for 42.5 per cent of the country’s total coconut area.
Its coconuts and coconut-related products are exported to more than 100 countries and territories.– VNS