Bees to battle alien moths

A billion bees are being bred in Beijing to defend the city from invading hordes of American white moths.

The billion-strong army of chouionia cunea, a tiny bee which is a natural predator of the moth, will soon be ready for release in the capital, reported the Xinhua News Agency.

White moths first arrived in China in 1979 and have now colonised six cities and provinces in the northern part of the country.

The moths are ravenous plant-eaters, and an outbreak can decimate surrounding greenery.

Each female lays up to 2,000 eggs in one go and can spawn between 30 million and 200 million offspring a year, with larvae capable of stripping a healthy tree of foliage in a matter of days.

Today the alien moths can be found in Liaoning, Hebei, Shaanxi and Shandong provinces and Tianjin, as well as Beijing, where they have begun to spread again this year, after an outbreak was successfully curbed three years ago.

On April 17 a white moth was sighted in the capital, and by May 22 researchers had received 27,890 reports of the invading insect.

But help is at hand in the form of the chouionia cunea.

"These little bees are efficient hunters and they'll have no negative effects on people, the environment or other indigenous insects," said Tao Wanqiang, head of the forest protection station of the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Parks, yesterday.

Other weapons to be used in the battle against the alien moths include spraying by planes and on the ground, insecticide lamps and the introduction of an anti-American white moth virus, said Tao.

Source: China Daily

People's Daily Online ---