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The pest-eating insects are recognized for their role as natural predators of various garden and agricultural pests
NEGROS OCCIDENTAL, Philippines – The Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPA) has started treating coconut trees with pest-eating bugs to combat the infestation of cocolisap in affected areas of Negros Occidental.
Dr. Dina Genzola, the officer in charge of the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPA), said on Thursday, August 17, that they have released pest-eating bugs – coccinellid beetles and Comperialla calaunica – in affected areas to combat the cocolisap infestation, which poses a threat to more than five million coconut trees in the province.
Coccinellid beetles, commonly known as ladybugs, belong to the family Coccinellidae. These insects are recognized for their distinctive appearance and their role as natural predators of various garden and agricultural pests.
Ladybugs are typically small, rounded beetles with a convex body shape. They come in various colors, including red, orange, yellow, and even black, often adorned with distinct spots or patterns. These vibrant colors serve as warning signals to potential predators, indicating that they might be distasteful or toxic.
Coconut-scale insects, also referred to as cocolisap, are a part of the diet of coccinellid beetles. Comperialla calaunica is a parasite that infiltrates its host to feed on it, leading to its demise.
In an effort to advance biocontrol efforts and curtail the spread of cocolisap, the OPA has established a village laboratory in Barangay Mailum, Bago City, for breeding coccinellids, using squash as a rearing substrate. The initiative aims to address the infestation in the cities of Bago and La Carlota, as well as the towns of Murcia and La Castellana.
The OPA estimated that the biological treatment for each coconut tree will take up to two months to yield results or until the pest-eating bugs have completed their consumption of the cocolisap.
Cocolisap infestation leads to the yellowing of coconut leaves and affects other high-value crops as well. In severe cases, it also impacts green coconuts and, if left untreated, eventually results in the death of the coconut tree.
Genzola confirmed that 6,253 coconut trees were affected by the infestation, which has impacted two cities and two towns in Negros Occidental.
Officials in the province were worried because the cocolisap infestation poses as a major threat to nearly 14,000 local coconut farmers and has the potential to disrupt copra production in the province, and could result in an income loss of P18.7 million.
The Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) has allocated P100,000 for the pruning of affected coconut trees and is awaiting additional funds from the provincial government.
According to Genzola, the OPA has already started the pruning of over a thousand coconut trees severely affected by the coconut pest in Barangay Mailum, Bago City.
The PCA will establish a Coconut Scale Insect (CSI) Mitigation Task Force to monitor the shipment of unprocessed coconut products, which could potentially put other coconut trees at risk.
Earlier, Negros Occidental Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson issued an executive order prohibiting the transport of coconut leaves, young coconuts, and other raw or unprocessed coconut products, as well as seedlings of other scale insect host plants, unless given a permit by the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA). – Rappler.com