China Releases 600 Million Bees to Battle Invasive American White Moths
A deadly Bee Weapon... leave it to China to take a mildly amusing internet meme and transform it into an effective, gruesome and non-toxic instrument of biological warfare. Lucky for us, they're only using it on a bunch of pesky moths.
The American White Moth (Hyphantria cunea) is massive pest in China where its caterpillars munch their way through an ever-increasing expanse of forests, orchards and farms annually. Since being introduced from North America in the late 1970s, the moth we know as the Fall Webworm has resisted most conventional control methods and experts estimate Beijing alone has lost over 50,000 trees.
Enter the, well, not the dragon but a similar winged avenger: a parasitic wasp that eats American White Moth larvae from the inside out! Chinese entomologists have found a way to breed these wasps on a massive scale using silkworm cocoons. The infested silkworm cocoons are then hung on trees in areas known to be afflicted by the American White Moth.
This year's eradication campaign is one of the largest yet, with an estimated 600 million “Chouionia Cunea Yang” wasps released by forestry authorities in the north Chinese city of Baoding.
After five years of using bees to kill the so-called “forest locusts”, officials have come to relay on them as an effective and environmentally friendly form of pest control. Let's just hope they don't lose their taste for moths and start looking elsewhere. (via Xinhuanet and China.org)