The invasive American White Moth has been sneaking into China from its northeastern border since 1979 and is now seriously threatening trees and crops in Beijing and five provinces.
"The moth, that strips trees and crops of their foliage, could impact on Beijing's 2008 Olympics if not controlled," Cao Qingyao, spokesman of the State Forestry Administration (SFA), told a press briefing on the issue.
At least 50,000 trees in 933 villages around Beijing's 9 districts and counties have been affected by the first swarm of moths, which usually start attacking trees in early May, said Wu Jian, chief engineer of SFA's department of forestation.
"Beijing is preparing to host a green Olympics in 2008. Without timely control, the moth may turn the green Olympics into a brown one by eating all the leaves from Beijing's trees," Wu warned.
But he was confident that the problem could be tackled in Beijing before 2008.
Besides Beijing, the moth epidemic has affected 116 cities and counties of Tianjin Municipality and the provinces of Hebei, Liaoning, Shandong and Shaanxi, said Wei Diansheng, director of the department.
"More areas around these provinces will face the threat of an attack from the moths, which is harmful to more than 300 plants and crops," he said.
"This year, our moth-control will target about 16,000 hectares of woodland in Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei and Liaoning," he added.
To prevent possible environmental pollution resulting from the use of pesticides, he appealed to authorities to use more biological agents, including parasitic bees which are the natural enemy of the moth, to combat the problem.
"It is estimated each year, about 66 billion yuan (US$8.1 billion) worth of damage has been caused to China's forest by the invasive species," Wu said.
Source: China Daily