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Fruit growers suffer great losses from beetle devastation in Vietnamese province

Many farms of cashew, mango and jackfruit trees in Hon Quan District in the southern province of Binh Phuoc have been heavily damaged by the attack of tens of thousands of beetles over the past month.

People who travel along Highway 14 and inter-communal roads in the district these days easily see a lot of such fruit trees bare of leaves due to beetles.

The insects have eaten up leaves of fruit trees, from young to old ones, locals told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper.

Phuong Thi Dao, a 68-year-old woman residing in the district’s Dong No Commune, said that this kind of insect has destroyed fruit crops for about three years.

This photo shows the fruit trees bare of leaves due to the beetle devastation in the farm of Nguyen Huu Cong in Binh Phuoc Province’s Hon Quan District. Photo: A. Loc / Tuoi Tre

However, beetles appeared two years ago in small quantities and the area of plants destroyed was not significant, Dao said.

This year, beetles have flocked in at a very dense rate and many growers have their fruit farms devasted, thus suffering heavy losses, she added.

Beetles usually appear at the beginning of the rainy season, the woman said.

“When it gets dark, each flock of insects from the cajuput and rubber trees simultaneously flies into houses as they move towards the light generated from the bulbs in the houses.”

While they move, the sound of thousands of beetles banging themselves against metal-sheet roofs is heard as if a whirlwind, she added.

This image shows a cashew tree bare of leaves due to beetle devastation. Photo: A. Loc / Tuoi Tre

Beetles do not bite humans but they generate a foul odor, especially when they are stamped dead.

Their legs are quite hard, so they cause unconformable feeling to people they touch.

As the pesticides fail to have effect on a vast amount of beetles, people have to turn off the lights indoors and install lights outdside to attract the insects, preventing them from entering their houses.

One of the victims of the beetle devastation is Pham Thi Huyen Trang, a local in Dong Tan hamlet, Dong No Commune, who has a 7-hectare mango garden nearing harvest.

Trang does not use insecticides but she simply uses light from bulbs to attract bugs to fall into the water pots placed below the bulbs.

This image shows cashew trees bare of leaves in Dong No Commune, Hon Quan District, Binh Phuoc Province. Photo: A. Loc / Tuoi Tre

Every day, Trang collects bags of beetles by this way and then bury them.

“At the current beetle density, I predict the whole mango garden of mine may be consumed by them in a few weeks. As a result, the yield will definitely decrease in the next crop.” Trang said.

Another sufferer is Nguyen Huu Cong, in Dong Tan Hamlet of Dong No Commune, who possesses a mango and cashew garden of around 3,000 square meters, which once brought him hundreds of kilograms of fruits every year.

This year, however, large flocks of beetles have been attacking his farm. They have eaten up leaves of his fruit trees, causing mangos to fall down and cashew nuts to be flat.

Consequently, the yield has declined drastically, by as much as 90 percent less than that in 2020, Cong sadly said.

This photo shows a mango tree on which leaves are eaten up by beetles. Photo: A. Loc / Tuoi Tre

Upon appearance of beetles, Cong sprayed plant protection drugs over his fruit trees, but a few days later the pests reappeared.

“Ten days ago, my whole garden was still green, but now it is all exhausted,” the farmer groaned.

Fruit trees deprived of leaves not only turn out poor yields but also weaken, even die, Cong warned, adding the he hoped agencies concerned to provide growers with effective measures to prevent crops from being damaged by pests like beetles.

The district’s agricultural and rural development office has been reported about the beetle devastation, Tran Hai Ha, head of the office, told reporters.

Some beetles are seen in the hand of a farmer in Binh Phuoc Province’s Hon Quan District. Photo: A. Loc / Tuoi Tre

“Many communes have been affected by the insect and we are collecting figures of damage incurred by farmers.”

Two weeks ago, Ha said, the office consulted the local agricultural service center on how to prevent beetles from damaging fruit crops.

“Beetles are hard to be exterminated. It is not easy to kill them by spraying pesticides as applied to other pests. We are waiting for the center to provide solutions to help farmers put the issue under control,” Ha said.

A farmer in Binh Phuoc Province’ s Hon Quan District is seen in his fruit recently devastated by beetles. Photo: A. Loc / Tuoi Tre

Beetles may eat up a garden in a short time. Photo: A. Loc / Tuoi Tre

A beetle in Binh Phuoc’s Hon Quan District is larger than the distal phalanx of an adult thumb. Photo: A. Loc / Tuoi Tre

This image show beetles trapped in a pot of water placed below a light – a tactic used by locals in Binh Phuoc Province’s Hon Quan District to entice and capture beetles. Photo: A. Loc / Tuoi Tre

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