Bagworm infestation a serious issue affecting plantations

YONG PENG: Some 3,100ha of oil palm plantation in Chaah Baru near Yong Peng were reported with cases of bagworm infestation.

The issue had raised concerns over damage to crops in the affected area after a prolonged and an uncontrolled use of chemical pesticides.

The outbreak, according to sources, was attributed to indiscriminate usage of pesticides that eradicated all the natural enemies if the bagworms.

Yong Peng assemblyman Lee Kim Moi who alerted StarMetro on the issue, said the hot weather had also impacted the bagworm’s manifestation.

“And the continous rain didn’t help in controlling the pest,” she added.

Lee commented on this after a meeting at her office with the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) plant protection services division chief Dr Siti Ramlah Ahmad Ali.

The meeting was also attended by Systematic Aviation Services Sdn Bhd representatives and a number oil palm small holders who were affected by the bagworm infestation.

Bagworms or genus metisa plana are leaf-eating insects that builds a silk nest embedded with pieces of dried leaf.

It causes damage to crops by defoliating its leaves.

The MPOB said the first outbreak was detected in the middle of last year and the bagworm population continued to grow rapidly.

Despite efforts to cull the species by setting up some 400 pheromone traps, the pest continued to thrive in the infected oil palm estates.

Census by the MPOB had showed that Kampung Sawah Padi, Sungai Lenek and Kampung Haji Mian were the worst hit areas.

Experts recorded the findings of 300 of larvaes per frond on the plants in some areas in Kampung Sawah Padi, 250 per frond in Sungai Lenek compared with average of 10 of larva per frond in other areas.

“This is a very serious situation if it is not controlled.

“It is estimated that more than 300 small holders here may lose 40% of yield over the next few years,” said Lee.

On the whole, the bagworm infestation had affected some 3,100ha of oil palm plantation in Northern Yong Peng she added.

Lee added that the MPOB had also hired a pilot from New Zealand to fly a crop duster to spray of 77,500 litres of beneficial biological bacteria to cull the bagworms.

“It is expected to hit 80% of the bagworm population here,” she said.

The aerial spraying works would take seven days and Lee advised residents in the affected areas to avoid using Jalan Kampung Sawah Padi, which would be used as an airstrip.

Lee said the public need not worry about the biological spray as it is safe for humans and animals.

“All the affected planters are required to set pheromone traps in their plots to snare the male worms in order to control its population.

“We also appeal to the planters to grow plants which will attract predatory insects that feeds on the bagworms.”

She added that the government had spent RM400,000 on the aerial spraying works.

“We hope all the small holders will cooperate with the authorities on responsible chemical pesticide usage to control the bagworm infestation.”

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